US calls on India to open up to GM soybean

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

US calls on India to open up to GM soybean

Related tags Nutrition

India must open up to genetically modified soybean if it wants to keep up with domestic demand, according to the agriculture representative of the American Embassy in Delhi.

For India to increase production, it should allow the use of innovative technologies, including GMOs​,” said Scott Sindelar at a conference in the capital. 

Alternatively, the world's fifth-biggest producer should start importing from overseas, like neighbouring Bangladesh, Sindelar told the event. 

Despite its lofty position in the global rankings, India produces barely a tenth of America's output of 120m tonnes, despite a considerably higher population that mainly purchases vegetarian ingredients, and a massive feed market. 

As a result the country must find ways to boost production and supply, Sindelar added. 

Soybean is among the few plants to provide high quality protein and nutrients with low levels of saturated fat, according to Ratan Sharma, head of the soy food programme of the US Soybean Export Council.

As such, the government should include soy as the main nutritional ingredient for a range of nutrition and child welfare programmes, Dr Sharma urged. 

Yet India is missing a trick due to its focus on using soy as feed, resulting in a lack of speciality beans grown there for human consumption. This has in turn been limiting the growth of soy food sector with limited value addition possibilities. 

Though soy processing has recently emerged as a good source of employment, a lack of proper processing technology has been holding it back, despite 10% annual production growth. By not keeping up, India will need to find other soy sources, including imports and GMOs, Dr Sharma added. 

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