Experts and scientists from Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana have ruled out “contamination” of rice variety PUSA-1121 by some heavy metals and described media reports on the issue as “factually incorrect, baseless, illogical and a figment of imagination.”
A communiqué from the University quoting noted farm scientist and Punjab Farmers’ Commission chairman G. S. Kalkat said PUSA-1121 is an evolved variety of Basmati and not a genetically modified one. There was no poisonous chemical in its grain, he added.
Refuting the reports in a section of the media, the Head of PAU’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Prof. B. L. Bhardwaj, said no such information had ever been sought from him and, being a plant breeder, it did not fall within his jurisdiction to make any comment on the subject.
The University’s Director for Research, Prof. P. S. Minhas, said soils and water used for paddy fields were among the best in the world and there was little chance of any contamination, especially in grains. He said the media reports were not based on scientific facts.
Prof. Minhas said since plants could naturally filter out contaminations, maximum heavy metals were retained in the roots and minimal in grains. “So far, no such problem has come to the notice of the University,” he asserted.
The Head of the Department of Soils at PAU, Prof. Yadvinder Singh, said surveys were being undertaken regularly by soil scientists but no heavy metal contamination had been noticed. “During this year also, we will identify the hot spots, if any, and analyse the samples in detail to decide the future course of action,” he added.