Pawar bats for Bt brinjal

Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has urged agricultural scientists to double their efforts to remove misgivings regarding genetically modified or transgenic crops from the minds of both policy makers and the public.

Inaugurating a two-day conference of vice chancellors of agricultural universities and directors of ICAR labs in New Delhi today, Pawar said, "the recent decision on Bt brinjal should not be seen as a setback to our efforts, but a challenge which we need to surmount."

He said the most compelling case for transgenic crops is their capability to increase crop productivity and lower production costs, thereby helping to alleviate poverty in poor and developing countries.

He also stressed on research on developing crop-live stock farming system based on integrated food-fodder, breed-health and bio-security management in order to prevent the spread of trans-boundary animal diseases.

Pawar underlined the need for alliance of ICAR-university-state government departments as also public-private partnerships for creating the right atmosphere for promoting such research.

"Requisite models of public-private partnerships must be evolved for educational activities as well as for development, application and flow of technologies from lab to the market place and for strengthening of National Agricultural Research System (NARS) infrastructure, through active interface with the industry," Pawar said.

Minister of state for agriculture, consumer affairs, food and public distribution KV Thomas, in his address, emphasised on the need for a big push in the higher education sector in agriculture and allied subjects.

He also emphasised the need for strengthening international cooperation and private sector participation in the field of agricultural research.