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India and Monsanto: Advancing Biotechnology
The government of India is establishing a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority which will be responsible for the release, import and post-release monitoring of genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds. In an address to a joint session of parliament, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam explained that the "quality control of GM seeds is an important issue and it is proposed to strengthen the state seed testing laboratories."

According to The Times of India, "India has granted permission to only four companies, including US-based Monsanto Seeds' Indian subsidiary, to sell GM cotton seeds that protect the cotton crop from the bollworm pest."

The speech followed a report in the Business Standard stating that "Monsanto India Ltd, the leading provider of agricultural products and solutions, is planning to roll out 20 new hybrids of BT cotton seeds." A company official was quoted as saying "There should not be any political intervention as the large chunk of GDP depends on it. Secondly, about 70 per cent of the population depends on farming and most of them want multiplied output."

The article noted that "Cotton provides livelihood to over 60 million people in the country and contributes to about 29.8 per cent of Indian agriculture gross domestic product."

Winston is aware that there are NGOs in India and other countries that oppose agricultural biotechnology. However, he is also aware that 25 Nobel Laureate scientists have signed a declaration in support agri-biotech and that organizations ranging from the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization to the Vatican have supported responsible development and use of agricultural biotechnology. In 2004, the Vatican held a conference titled, "Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology".

The increased use of genetically modified crops in India will improve the lives of millions throughout Asia.
  • Click here for The Times of India article
  • Click here for Business Standard article
  • Click here for "Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology"


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