Agriculture, GM and Ethics: The Case for India

Letter to the Editor


  • Keya Acharya


Successive Indian governments have and continue to see GM crops as the next saviour, after the Green Revolution of the 1960s, to feed India’s increasing population, already huge at 1.38b. Scientists at India’s agricultural research centres point to the country’s shrinking land and water resources, the degrading quality of its soils together with high input costs that have stagnated production as needing this new technology to maintain India’s food security.[1]

Yet GM crops in agriculture, introduced in the 2000s through Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton, remain highly controversial, with NGO-led protests and lawsuits that have stalled the introduction of GM food crops such as brinjal and mustard for years now, citing environmental, health, poor regulatory monitoring of corporate monopolies over seeds that jeopardise India’s majority small-farmers as significant reasons for concern.

Meanwhile, the inadequate administrative monitoring of this sector, together with several government and legal moratoria on the use of GM crops has certainly aided Bt seed companies to quietly spread the use of Bt seeds. Activists fear that multinationals are taking advantage of lax monitoring to push their own sales, such as in Monsanto’s Bt cotton ‘HT’, to be used together with Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup Ready containing glyphosate, a proven toxic already banned in certain South Asian countries. Or Bayer’s patent over DM H11 mustard, engineered for use with Bayer herbicide Basta!, containing glufosinate, another known toxin.