Australia transfers technology for genetically modified bananas to India

March 2013. Source: Times of India

Recipe for slaying anaemia

Australian scientists have genetically modified bananas to stack them with extra vitamins and iron. They are now sharing this technology with Indian scientists. What makes this development really significant is that India is the world’s largest producer of bananas by a mammoth margin and consumes most of these domestically. So it is elementary that if Indian bananas could be fortified with more nutrients, this would have a wholesome impact on the citizenry’s diet and counteract their penchant for malnutrition. The possibility of making bananas rich in iron is of special note as iron-deficiency is a grave problem among vegetarians and anaemia is also a major cause of maternal mortality.

India’s Bt cotton triumphs helped the global GM narrative march forward but the government has tried to reign in this march at Bt brinjal, putting a moratorium on its commercial release after a decade’s worth of agronomic and biosecurity testing, not to mention unequivocal approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee. While our decision-makers bury their heads in the sand, the US Food and Drug Administration has categorically declared that foods developed by bioengineering techniques do not entail greater safety concerns than those developed by traditional plant breeding. Ninety per cent of American maize, soybean and canola is now GM. Brazil, which once used to be a net food importer, has engineered an impressive agricultural turnaround by pushing GM crops forward. Not only does China’s dining table boast GM papaya, tomato and bell peppers but GM poplar is now supplying it timber on a commercial scale!

As food demand keeps rising, it will become increasingly hard to resist the embrace of high-yielding GM varieties. Anyway, why try to resist when no harm has been detected among Americans who have been chomping GM cornflakes and tortillas for around two decades now?