Pawar makes another push for GM crops

Making an indirect push for genetically modified foods, of which he is a strong proponent, union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today said, ''My colleagues in the finance ministry are worried about higher import of pulses and edible oil. We have to increase domestic production of these two commodities, for which the support of technological breakthroughs in seeds and other inputs is required.''

Speaking at the Indian Seed Congress organised by the National Seed Association of India (NSAI), Pawar said that to achieve the desired growth rate of 4 per cent in agriculture, there is a need to improve all vital links in the value chain, including seeds.

''Seed is the critical initial input for agriculture. Public and private sectors have to partner the process of change equally by bringing in better products, supplement the transfer efforts of government and ensure that we never have to go back to the era of food shortages,'' he said.

Seeking more private sector participation in crops like pulses and oilseeds, the minister said, ''While there are technological barriers in developing hybrids in pulses, success met with some of the oilseeds crops need to be pursued with vigour. This will help reduce the import bill.''