The Narendra Modi government is committed to going ahead with trials for genetically modified or GM crops and a decision on commercialization will be taken only after proper scientific evaluation, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has told NDTV.
Citing the reasons for the government's push for GM crops, he said, "For the sake of food security, to get the poor to live with dignity, we need to evaluate all safe techniques of food production. Where will we get new techniques from, they won't come from the moon."
Mr Javadekar insisted every aspect of safety is being looked into, even though, he said, so far there is no proof to suggest they are not safe. "Even many farmer organisations are asking for trials," he said.
Mr Javadekar said concerns of all stakeholders, including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-linked organisations that are opposed to GM crops, are being addressed. The environment minister held a three-hour long meeting with RSS-linked organization Swadesi Jagran Manch to explain the government's stand on the issue.
"Not just RSS-affiliated organisations, we can sit across the table and satisfy anyone. We are ready to have a dialogue with all those who have raised concerns," he said.
The environment minister says the process of trials will go on for another six-seven years. Responding to concerns raised by several BJP-ruled states that have opposed trials, he said, "Let the democratic process play out. We are a federal structure. Ultimately, collective wisdom will prevail."
Talking on the experience of producing Bt cotton, he said, "No one is compelling farmers to go in for Bt cotton, they can continue to produce traditional cotton."
Mr Javadekar added that the experience of Bt cotton farmers in Gujarat and Maharashtra has been very different. "GM crops need proper and assured irrigation. Despite PM's package for Vidarbha region, irrigation remains a problem there. That's why Bt cotton farmers are happy in Gujarat and not in neighbouring Maharashtra. In Gujarat, they have ensured micro irrigation," he said.