ANDHRA PRADESH

Kalam calls for research in agriculture biotechnology

Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with ICRISAT Director General William D. Darat ICRISAT in Medak on Friday.—PHOTO: by arrangement

Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with ICRISAT Director General William D. Darat ICRISAT in Medak on Friday.—PHOTO: by arrangement  

Former President of India and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has said that breakthroughs in agricultur biotechnology have the potential to increase crop productivity and the resistance of pests and diseases.

Dr. Kalam visited the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at Patancheru on Thursday and inaugurated the greenhouse containment facility of the Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC). He was welcomed by ICRISAT Director General Willam D. Dar.

Dr. Kalam proposed a list of research missions for ICRISAT. “For PTTC, the first and foremost task should be development of nutritionally enhanced foods and getting them approved,” he said and called for analysis of barren lands in India to retrieve at least 50 per cent of them in the next 10 years. He also suggested study of water bodies for rejuvenating them by 2020.

Supports GM crops

Supporting the GM crops, he said that there was clear evidence that the use of GM crops had resulted in significant benefits like higher crop yields, reduced farm costs, increased farm profit and improvement in health and the environment. “Yet there is a heated debate over GM crops. No illusionary fears can stop the advancement of what is rational and logical. The solution lies in developing beneficial transgenic crops locally. The PTTC will be the birthplace of a new generation of transgenic crops,” he said.

Dr. Dar said that modern technologies, particularly agriculture biotechnology, had the potential to reduce crop losses from pests and diseases, improve nutrient efficiency of food and animal feeds, extend post-harvest life of fruits and vegetables, and increase stress tolerance of crop plants allowing them to thrive even under various environmental extremes.

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