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Scientists: No to Genetically Modified Crops, Yes to Paradigm Shift

Scientists say India should not believe false promises of genetically modified crops

Common Dreams staff

(photo: gmarinich via Flickr)

A group of scientists said that ecological farming and a shift towards a holistic paradigm, not genetically modified (GM) crops, are the answer for India's future agricultural needs.

The scientists made their statements in New Delhi at a media briefing organized by Aruna Rodrigues, lead petitioner in a public interest litigation seeking a moratorium on GM testing in India, the Times of India reports.

Prof. Hans Herren, Co-Chair of IAASTD, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, who was awarded the World Food Prize in 1995, said, "What we really need is a shift in paradigm, where a holistic approach drives our interventions in agriculture without reductionist solutions hogging the center-stage and taking away precious resources."

Professor Jack Heinemann from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, pointed out the failure of GM crops to address food insecurity. "Only two countries in the world, both in South America, grow GM on more than 40% of their agricultural land and both are suffering from an increased food insecurity. Most of their poor neighbors that have not adopted GM have improving food security statistics," he said.

This point was echoed by Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who cited his group's studies showing that conventional farming outperformed GM farming.

Dr. Walter Goldstein of the Wisconsin-based Mandaamin Institute emphasized not only the failure in the U.S. of GM crops to outperform conventional crops but also the high price farmers pay when they choose GM seeds. "The path of adopting widespread use of high-tech GMO technology in the USA has been accompanied by greater consolidation of resources and power for few seed companies, higher seed prices, greater risk for farmers and less choice in varieties with hardly any increase in productivity."  

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