Sharad Pawar, India’s colourful and populist union agriculture minister, has blamed companies operating from overseas for the widespread opposition towards genetically modified crops in India.
Citing food producers in countries with GM technology-driven agriculture, such as the United States, Pawar alleged that such businesses were hellbent on stopping India from being fully self-sufficient in food, and especially oils.
The minister, who is also the president of the Nationalist Congress Party, a major force in India’s ruling coalition government, made the comments while on a three-day tour to the mainly agricultural east of the state of Maharashtra.
“In the US, the entire soyabean production is done with genetically modified technology. India has to import edible oils worth Rs60,000 crore. There is growing opposition to GM technology here, though it helps to increase productivity as is evident from our cotton experience.
“You have adopted GM in your country but you don't let that happen in India. This is not proper and it is alarming," said Pawar.
He also pointed out flaws in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGS) Act, as well as the controversial food security and land acquisition amendment bills.
"MGNREGS is affecting labour availability for farming. Similarly, extending food security to 57% of the population will inflate the subsidy bill beyond manageable proportions, apart from affecting work culture," he said.