Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Luddites will starve you

This morning, the Financial Express ran a multi-page special on "The Agri Quagmire", examining the decline of agriculture.

MS Swaminathan wrote " About the controversy concerning moratorium on the release of Bt brinjal, the present system of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) headed by an additional secretary, would not work. In future, we have to have recourse of biotechnology for increasing yield."

Parsing what he said, decisions on technology should not be presided over by a bureaucrat. Let alone a pseudo-politician, like Jairam Ramesh, whose 'decision' to suspend approval for Bt brinjal was a wet thumb held up to see which way the political wind was blowing.

In the same feature, YK Alagh, also an agricultural expert, wrote, "The growth rate of grains is around 2%, but non-grain crops are definitely growing faster, led by a very rapid recovery in cotton, which has been the great success story of the recent period."

The success story of cotton is, of course, the success story of Bt cotton, despite the strenuous (not to mention shrill and strident) protestations of the Luddite Lady Vandana Shiva that Bt cotton would ruin farmers. My friend Barun Mitra did us all proud by awarding her the Bullshit Award. The liberal chatterati who feel good reading about evil corporations were taken in by her. Luckily, the impecunious farmer wasn't, and today 80% of Indian cotton is grown from Bt seed.

No comments:

Post a Comment