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Government to let in GM crops only if essential: Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on June 9, 2014 - 7:26am

The main governing Bharatiya Janata Party had said in its 2014 election manifesto that its government will not allow GM foods without a full scientific evaluation on their long-term effects on soil and production, and their biological impact on consumers.

Bt cotton, introduced in India in 2002, was the first GM crop to be grown in the country. In February this year, trials for GM crops were opened when the then environment minister Veerappa Moily cleared field trials for rice, wheatmaize and castor.

Former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, too, has been outspoken in stating that the use of bio-technology and field trials of GM crops with crop-specific dedicated monitoring protocols system was necessary for the country.

Singh also said that his government will soon launch a "Gramin Sinchayi Yojana" (rural irrigation scheme) to extend irrigation coverage and reduce dependence on monsoon rains. At present, only 44% of India's 140 million hectare arable land is irrigated, the minister said.

"This year, we are looking at a weak monsoon. It is not very worrisome as only few states might get deficient rainfall. However, we are geared up to face any eventuality," said Singh.

To monitor and address the situation, the government was in touch with states to ensure availability of drought resistant seeds, provide weather updates and advisories for farmers, added Singh.

Originally Published: Economic Times

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