Protests against them a crime against humanity, says Richard J. Roberts

Scientists and others, who are in favour of genetically-modified (GM) food crops, have got support from an unexpected quarter — a Nobel laureate.

Richard J. Roberts, who won the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1993, on Monday made a forceful case for promoting research on GM food crops and their use for public consumption, saying they were needed to at least take care of vitamin and other deficiencies in the developing world.

Describing the protest by “green” parties in Europe against GM crops as a “crime against humanity,” he particularly drew attention to the project to produce a GM rice variety for tackling the problem of Vitamin A deficiency in India and other countries.

“The green parties are playing politics. About one-and-a-half [million] to two million children are affected by Vitamin A deficiency. It’s a crime against humanity … If I can get support from a philanthropist, I will file a case in the international court of justice.’’

Addressing a plenary lecture at the ongoing science conclave in the Indian Institute of Information Technology here, Professor Roberts also stressed the need for scientists to create awareness among the public and politicians on the scientific facts behind GM crops and other such contentious issues. “There is need for more science in politics and less politics in science.” The science conclave is being organised since 2008 by the Ministries of Human Resource Development and Science and Technology, as part of an exercise to promote science and technology as a viable career for bright youngsters. Participants include science leaders from India and abroad, and school and college students.

More In: National | News