Transgenic Crop (Field Trial)s & Food Security: more than 150 scientists write to MoEF


To:                                              February 8th, 2013


Ms Jayanti Natarajan,

Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests,

Government of India.


Dear Madam,




Greetings! This is in the context of the Ministry of Agriculture responding on behalf of the Union of India to the Supreme Court Technical Expert Committee (TEC)’s first set of recommendations. Madam, you would recall that the Members and the TOR of this TEC were decided under the authority of the MoEF and submitted to the Supreme Court by your Counsel as the consensus agreement between Petitioners and your Ministry in compliance with the order of the Court in the PIL (Civil Writ Petition 260 of 2005, Aruna Rodrigues & Ors Vs. Union of India) regarding GM crops in India. In the November 9th 2012 Hearing, while we did not hear anything from the MoEF, the Ministry of Agriculture argued that transgenic technology is absolutely needed for India’s food security and what’s more, that unsafe field trials of transgenic crops were needed for India’s food security! In this letter, we intend to showcase the many serious scientific and policy fallacies in this argument of the Ministry of Agriculture.


According to the Food & Agriculture Organisation, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. …Essentially, food security can be described as a phenomenon relating to individuals. It is the nutritional status of the individual household member that is the ultimate focus, and the risk of that adequate status not being achieved or becoming undermined….…The declared primary objective in international development policy discourse is increasingly the reduction and elimination of poverty…”[1].


What is Genetic Engineering, on the other hand?: An alteration of genetic material of an organism by modern biotechnological techniques, whereby new DNA is inserted into the host genome by first isolating and copying the genetic material of interest and then inserting this construct into the host organism. The technology of Genetic Engineering is often applied to create organisms that do not normally exist in nature (stringing together of viral, bacterial and other genes of interest and insertion or integration into another organism does not happen in Nature, even though proponents are heard to argue that GE is similar to conventional breeding) and crossing natural reproductive barriers, cutting across even kingdom lines.


It is not clear how the Ministry of Agriculture is arguing that this controversial, nascent and unproven technology is the panacea to the problem of hunger. The first commercialized crops came into being around 16 years ago and to this day, only two commercially viable transgenic traits are present, which are cultivated mainly in 3 countries (United States of America, Brazil and Argentina which grow 77% of all GM crops). An overwhelming majority of countries worldwide do not grow GM crops. GM crops are grown on a mere 160 million hectares that comprise 3.2% of the global agriculture land[2]. Just four crops cover 99% of the area under GM crops: soybean (47%), maize (32%), cotton (15%) and canola (5%). The two traits that have been commercialized mostly are: (1) Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) crops for insect resistance with genes from this soil bacterium inserted for a new toxin to be produced within the plant to kill insects; and (2) HT or herbicide tolerance, where the engineered plant is able to withstand herbicide sprays of particular kinds. Herbicide Tolerance is the overwhelming trait in commercially-grown GM crops today[3].


While that is the situation with GM crop cultivation, reflecting rejection from a majority of countries around the world, let us move to the issue of Hunger.


Examining the food security situation of USA or Brazil, which have adopted GM crops on a massive scale, it is evident that the situation has worsened after the introduction of GM crops. In a country like Argentina, it has remained the same. Clearly, these crops are not meant to address food security or hunger but to fill the coffers of agri-business corporations whose profits during the same period have climbed.


In the USA, in 2011 according to US Economic Research Service, 17.9 million households were food insecure (constituting 14.9% of American households that were food insecure) at some point in the year.[4] This means that an unprecedented 50.1 million people (1 in every 6 Americans) live in food insecure households in this nation that has the largest area under GM crop cultivation in the world, after having begun commercializing crops with this controversial technology way back in 1996. Food insecurity has increased to 15% of the population from where it was at 12% during 1995 and since then there has been a consistent increase.[5] Despite massive adoption of GM technology, the USA does not seem to be able to stem increasing hunger in the country. On the other hand, propping of agriculture with massive subsidies continues with 15 billion dollars given as direct agricultural subsidy in 2011[6].


In Brazil, it is seen that improvements in food security indicators have actually decelerated in the period of expansion of GM crops, compared to the earlier years. An annexure (Appendix 1) gives a picture of food security indicators in some GM-adopting developing countries which have gone in for GM crop cultivation of some food crops along with some other countries which have not, which clearly illustrates that there is no correlation and in fact, in some countries which have opted for GM crops on a large scale, things have only degenerated on the food security front.




In India, the affidavit from the MoA on behalf of the Union of India is arguing that our nation’s food security will be jeopardized without GM crops. It also argues that open-air field trials of GMOs are absolutely essential for this. This note has been prepared to put things in perspective, using scientific evidence in the context of the Government of India incorrectly arguing that biotechnology is mainly or even only about transgenics; and that without transgenic technology, India’s food security would be threatened.


The affidavit on behalf of the Government stated that:

“The demand for food and processed commodities is increasing due to growing population and rising per capita income. There are projections that demand for food grains would increase from 192 million tonnes in 2000 to 345 million tonnes in 2030. Hence in the next 20 years, production of food grains needs to be increased at the rate of 5.5 million tonnes annually……(Para 22);

A real-time analysis of this scenario provides sufficient justification for strengthening, intensifying and introducing cutting edge science and technology for increasing crop productivity in India…..(Para 23);

In the Indian context, with rising population, decreasing size of agricultural holding, reduced soil fertility, resource constraints in terms of land and water coupled with uncertainties arising out of agro-climatic conditions, the blend of genetic modified technology with other conventional tool is the valid solution for ensuring food security for its increasing population….(Para 24)” etc.


Incidentally, this is the same Malthusian argument of feeding the growing millions that has been put forth by global biotechnology majors to convince nations and leaders to iron over opposition to adopt GM crops and to speed up approvals. Further, even as GM crops as a pro-poor solution has been carefully built and propagated studies show that it has “seriously distorted public debate and impeded the development of sound, evidence-based policy.”[7]


In addition to making this fallacious correlation to food security, the Ministry also has misread the SC’s Technical Expert Committee’s first report (referred to as the Interim Report in some cases), by making it look as though the TEC recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM crops, which is not the case.


Further, the Ministry’s interpretation that the technical expert committee (TEC) has come in the way of agricultural biotechnology development is a gross misrepresentation of facts since transgenics cannot be equated to biotechnology.



1.     Yield increases are possible beyond breeding options too: The first question to be asked is whether yields are about increasing genetic potential through breeding alone, or genetic potential to be realized by other expertise/methods. Agro-ecological approaches like System of Rice Intensification[8], Non-Pesticidal Management of crops[9], integrated farming systems[10] etc. are documented to increase yields in sustainable ways. Many of these systems have also proved their resilience to deal with climate change.[11] It has also been established that factors like irrigation, soil productivity restoration and even remunerative markets play a role in improving production and yields.


2.     Yield as a “trait” at the molecular level: No genetically engineered crop has been created so far with intrinsic yield increase potential – yield is a complex quantitative trait, requiring several genes to be manipulated, whereas the commercialized transgenic crops deal with qualitative traits (like insect resistance, herbicide tolerance etc.). Moreover, there is also enough evidence to show that greater the number of genes that are manipulated, greater the instability that is induced putting a question mark on the ability of genetic engineering to deal with intrinsic yield potential of a crop. To talk about the need for improving productivity through transgenics is therefore incorrect.


3.     Yield increases with non-GE molecular breeding tools: There is significant evidence to show that complex traits can be successfully handled by non-GE molecular breeding tools like Marker Assisted Selection and other methods[12]. Further, the breakthroughs in conventional breeding cannot be neglected either, which in many cases is the basis for the yield of the GM crop (which is then engineered with the GM trait) – however, non-GE breeding methods (molecular non-GE or conventional) is attracting lesser investment and effort both in the private and the public sector.


Appendix 2 of this letter has a compilation of some major non-GM breeding successes in the recent past. India would do well in investing on this front.


4.     Experience with various commercially cultivated GM crops in the USA: In the USA, soybean and corn are the two major genetically modified crops (often assumed to be food crops, but actually going into non-food industrial use, livestock feed and fuelling automobiles). Herbicide-tolerant soybean (GM HT soybean) and corn have not increased yields any more than conventional methods that rely on commonly available herbicides. Further, insect-resistant Bt corn varieties have provided an average yield advantage of just 3-4% compared to typical conventional practices, including synthetic insecticide use. Per acre corn production in the US has increased 28% since the early 1990s. GE is responsible for only 14% of that increase, ie., only 4% of total US yield increase. Meanwhile, non-GE plant breeding and farming methods have increased yields of major grain crops by values ranging from 13-25%.  Bt corn varieties, engineered to protect plants from either the European corn borer or corn root worm, averaged over 13 years since 1996 when it was first commercialized, resulted in around 0.2 to 0.3% operational yield increase per year (Source: Doug Gurian Sherman (2009). Failure to Yield, Union of Concerned Scientists).


Studies by USDA scientists have shown that the yield benefits of insect resistant crops depend obviously on pest infestation in a given season[13]. On the other hand, in trials of herbicide tolerant soybean, “yield drag” effects were noticed, adversely impacting yields[14].

5.     Experience with Bt cotton in India: Bt cotton is the only GM crop approved for commercial cultivation in India. 2012 marks a decade of Bt cotton cultivation in the country. There is much controversy around whether cotton yield increases seen in the early part of the decade can be attributed to Bt technology or not.


Dr K R Kranthi, Director, Central Institute for Cotton Research says that cotton yields have shown an increase between 2002-04 due to IRM/IPM practices, new hybrids, new area under cultivation and new insecticides.  No significant yield advantage has been observed between 2004-2011 when area under Bt cotton increased from 5.4% to 96%. His analysis is presented as relevant extracts as Appendix 3.


In an April 2012 discussion paper of IFPRI, Gruere and Sun conclude that Bt cotton contributed (only) 19% of total yield growth over time (with the remaining increase coming from other factors at play)[15]. Besides Bt cotton, the use of fertilizer and in the increased adoption of hybrid seeds appear to have contributed to the yield increase over time, say the authors. Incidentally, the role of increased irrigation in cotton cultivation in India and good seasons/monsoons have not been comprehensively analysed by these authors.


A special case to be looked into is the state of Gujarat in India, which contributes nearly 40% of India’s cotton production. Here, in 2010 (years after Bt cotton expansion in the state), it was reported that the average productivity of cotton lint in irrigated areas was 689 kg/hectare whereas it was a mere 247 kilos in un-irrigated areas, indicating how important irrigation was[16].


A report brought out by a coalition of groups working on GM crop issues, on the occasion of ten years of Bt cotton cultivation in India shows that yields increases in Indian cotton have actually been impressive in the years when Bt cotton expansion did not take place[17].




We would like to reiterate that the MoA’s response on behalf of the Government of India was a fallacious techno-centric response to the issue of food security, even though the international discourse, to which India is a party to and signatory of, clearly looks at food security not as a function of food production and crop yield growth, but about poverty/development, access to food etc. In addition, the MoA completely ignores the important aspect that food safety is an integral part of food security and cannot be separated from it.


The ‘International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development’ (IAASTD) report has clearly concluded that smallholder agriculture with access to land, markets and sufficient resources is the best way to ensure food and livelihood security. The report sees no significant role for GM crops in ensuring food or livelihood security for farmers.[18]


The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, in his report to the UN in March 2011 has stated that agro-ecological approaches with low external inputs, empowering farmers and building their knowledge and skills can effectively increase productivity at the field level, reduce rural poverty, improve nutrition and help adapt to climate change.[19]


Food security, as we are all aware, is a problem not only of production but of distribution and access/purchasing power. Today India’s paradox of overflowing godowns/rotting grains, with 320 million people going hungry is well-known. The world over and in India, most of the hungry people are ironically partaking in the food production process. Clearly hunger is a more multi-faceted problem than what can be fixed by using a particular seed or cocktail of chemicals. Therefore, we seek that the government address the issue of food security in a holistic manner taking into account the issue in its totality rather than look for short cuts and get distracted by red herrings like GM crops and pesticides.







The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, argued in the Supreme Court against the interim report of the Technical Expert Committee. It said in its affidavit, …”the 10 year moratorium on field trials of GM crops recommended by the TEC would mean a complete stop to agri-biotech research applications…” and that it will result in indirectly benefiting MNCs, with India having to import GM technology from abroad (Para 28). The MoA argues that ‘these technologies will hugely benefit in achieving genetic potential of a crop by making cost of cultivation cheaper, which means achieving higher productivity’. This whole argument is flawed.

  • Firstly, the TEC is not about (all) agri-biotech research applications. The Ministry has in its narrow definition included only GM crops as agriculture biotechnology. The TEC is specific; it is about GM crops and trees and not about other agri-biotechnologies.
  • Secondly, the TEC has not recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM crops. It has specified what kind of GM crops the moratorium recommendation applies to (Bt GM crops, HT GM crops and crops for which India is Centre of Origin or Diversity). Contrary to the assertions by the Ministry of Agriculture, it is in fact the Indian public sector GM crop research that will continue in a scenario where the TEC’s recommendations are accepted. Almost, all multinational GM research is centred around Bt and HT crops (Appendix 4 has a list of GM crops under research) whereas most public sector crops are non-Bt and non-HT and also in crops other than for which India is the Centre of Diversity. While this may be so, we believe that there is much wrong with the public sector GM research too, and many important issues came to the fore in the recent report of the Sopory Committee.
  • Thirdly, linking field trials of GMOs to food security is absolutely fallacious. In fact, in a situation where commercialized GMOs are yet to prove their success on yield, safety or sustainability fronts, there is no connection between field trials and food security. Therefore field trials of GM crops are an unconnected and independent issue that should be governed based on considerations of biosafety and the precautionary principle.

It is completely unscientific and unbecoming of the Ministry of Agriculture to insist on unsafe field trials.


The TEC recommendation to have a preliminary biosafety assessment before open-air field trials and after establishing the need for a transgenic option is indeed welcome. Further, the TEC is suggesting some policy directives (not for the first time in India and the Parliamentary standing committee in its report had made similar recommendations), on particular GM crops and traits to be discarded, which is also a welcome suggestion.


Madam, it is in the context of the above reality and evidence that we urge you to pro-actively come forward to adopt the sound recommendations already made by the TEC in this matter.



1.     Padmabhushan Dr Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, Founder Director of Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology; Anveshna, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

2.     Padmabhushan Dr Inderjeet Kaur, MBBS, All India Pingalwara Society, Amritsar

3.     Padmashri Dr Daljit Singh, MBBS, MS, Amritsar

4.     Padmashri Dr M H Mehta, Ex Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Agriculture University, Gujarat

  1. Dr A Biju Kumar, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, Kariavattom, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
  2. Dr A Gopalakrishnan, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Govt. of India
  3. Dr A R Vasavi, Anthropologist, formerly with National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
  4. Dr Abey George, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  5. Dr Abhee Dutt Majumder, Scientist, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, West Bengal
  6. Dr Adarsh Pal, Head, Dept of Botany & Environmental Sciences, GNDU, Amritsar
  7. Dr Amar Singh Azad, Public Health expert, Punjab
  8. Dr Amarjeet Singh Soodan, Associate Professor, Dept of Botany & Environmental Sciences, GNDU, Amritsar
  9. Dr Amit Basole, Biotechnologist & Economist, Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston
  10. Dr Amruth M, Scientist, Forestry and Human Dimensions, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala
  11. Dr Anbazhagan Kolandaswamy, Post-Doctoral Scientist (Molecular Immunology),
    Insitut des Neuroscience de Montpellier Hospital, France
  12. Dr Anil Pande, Associate Professor, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
  13. Dr Anish Dua, Dept of Zoology, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
  14. Dr Ankur Patwardhan, Environmental Sciences, Head of Department of Biodiversity, Abasaheb Garware College, Pune
  15. Dr Anupam Paul, State Agricultural Technologists’ Service Association, West Bengal
  16. Dr Anurag Goel, Molecular Biologist, WAPRED, Madikeri, Karnataka
  17. Dr Arun Mitra, National General Secretary, Indian Doctors for Peace & Development, Punjab
  18. Dr Arun Waghela, BB Chitle Mahavidyalaya, Sangli, Maharashtra
  19. Dr Aruna Chakraborty, Consultant Biochemist, BN Hospital, Kolkata
  20. Dr Arundeep Ahluwalia, Ecologist, Panjab University, Chandigarh
  21. Dr Aseem Shrivastava, Economist, New Delhi
  22. Dr Ashis Ghosh, Former Director, Zoological Survey of India, MoEF; Member, National Bio-Diversity Authority (2003-2009), Member of Task force on Environment and BioDiversity, Planning Commission (11th Five Year Plan), West Bengal
  23. Dr Atul Mehta, Research Scientist (Rice), Anand Agricultural University, Gujarat
  24. Dr Biji Abraham, As. Professor in Economics, Christian College, Chengannur, Kerala
  25. Dr C T S Nair, Former Chief Economist (Forestry Dept), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Former, Exec-Vice President, Kerala State Science Technology and Environment Council, Kerala
  26. Dr Christopher, Reader, Dept of Environmental Sciences, M G University, Kerala
  27. Dr Claude Alvares, Organic Farming Association of India, Goa
  28. Dr Debal Deb, Centre for Inter-disciplinary Studies, Odisha
  29. Dr Deepika Thakur, Environmental Scientist, Chandigarh
  30. Dr Devika, Centre for Development studies, Trivandrum
  31. Dr Dhanya Bhaskaran, Asst Professor (Environmental Science), University of Agriculture Sciences, Raichur, Karnataka
  32. Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, Special Advisor, Agricultural Ecosystems, Commission on Ecosystem Management, IUCN; Former Chief Environment Officer, Govt of West Bengal
  33. Dr Dileep Kumar R, Post Doctoral Fellow, Institute of Venom Science, Centre for Computational Biology and Bio informatics, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram
  34. Dr Dinesh Abrol, Scientist, NISTADS
  35. Dr E Kunhikrishnan, Professor, Dept of Zoology, Kerala University
  36. Dr Elizabeth Joseph, Retd. Scientist (Fisheries), Kerala Agriculture University
  37. Dr G Chandra Sekhar, Agricultural Entomologist, Hyderabad
  38. Dr G P I Singh, Vice Chancellor, Adesh University, Bathinda, Punjab
  39. Dr G Rajasekhar, Agricultural Scientist (Extension), Hyderabad
  40. Dr G S Kaushal, Former Director of Agriculture, Govt of Madhya Pradesh
  41. Dr G S Mohan, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Research Station, UAS, Bangalore
  42. Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Agriculture Extension Scientist, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad
  43. Dr Ghanshyam Varma, M.B.B.S., Indore
  44. Dr Gurbax Singh, Agriculture Scientist (Agronomy), Amritsar
  45. Dr H R Prakash, Retd. Soil Scientist, Department of Agriculture, Bangalore
  46. Dr H S Prema, Nutritionist, Varenya Nutrition Concepts, Bangalore
  47. Dr Hampaiah, Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Biodiversity Board, Hyderabad
  48. Dr Hari Narayanan, Scientist, Professor, Guruvayoorappan College, Trichur
  49. Dr Indira Devi, Professor (Economics), Kerala Agriculture University
  50. Dr J C Upadhyaya, Retired Professor, Indore, Madhya Pradesh
  51. Dr J Prasant Palakkappillil, Principal, Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kochi, Kerala
  52. Dr Jyothi Krishnan, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  53. Dr K Babu Rao, Professor (Retd), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad
  54. Dr K C Raghu, Food Technologist, Pristine Organics, Bangalore
  55. Dr K D Yadav, Prof of Agricultural Extension, JNKVV, Madhya Pradesh
  56. Dr K Gunathilagaraj, Retd Professor of Agricultural Entomology, TNAU, Coimbatore
  57. Dr K S Arya, Former Member of Syndicate, Panjab University, Chandigarh
  58. Dr K V Sankaran, Former Director, Kerala Forest Research Institue, Peechi, Kerala
  59. Dr Lahu K. Gaekwad, Kala Vanijya Vigyan Mahavidyalaya, Distt. Pune.
  60. Dr Lalitha Vijayan, Sr Scientist, Salim Ali Foundation and formerly, Acting Director and Senior Principal Scientist, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural Studies (SACON), Coimbatore
  61. Dr Latha Anantha, Director, River Research Centre, Thrissur, Kerala
  62. Dr Leenakumari, Head and Professor, RARS, Mancombu, Kerala Agriculture University
  63. Dr Livtar Singh Chawala, Dr B C Roy Award Winner, Former Chairman of PG Committee of Medical Council of India; Founder and Former Vice Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences; All India President, Doctors for Peace & Development, Punjab
  64. Dr M C Varshneya, Former Vice Chancellor, Anand Agriculture University, Gujarat
  65. Dr M Ganapathy, Executive Director, Public Health Resource Network, New Delhi
  66. Dr M Parameswaran, former HOD, Dept. of Biochemistry, Gujarat Agriculture University, Anand
  67. Dr M S Chari, Entomology expert, Former Director-Central Tobacco Research Institute
  68. Dr M Zeenath, Associate Professor, Department of Zoology, MES KVM Colege Valanchery, Kerala
  69. Dr Mammen Chundamannil, Scientist, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala
  70. Dr Manas Pandit, Associate Professor, Dept of Vegetable Crops, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, West Bengal
  71. Dr Minoo Parabiya, Renowned Botanist, Former Head of Dept of Biosciences, South Gujarat University-Surat; Member, State Biodiversity Board, Gujarat
  72. Dr Mira Shiva, Coordinator, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society, New Delhi
  73. Dr N G Malleshi, HOD, Grain Science & Technology (Retd), CFTRI, Mysore and Honorary Adviser at Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai
  74. Dr N N Panicker, Scientist, Independent Thinker and Innovator (Ocean Engineering)
  75. Dr Nimisha Shukla, Head, Dept. of Economics, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad
  76. Dr Om Parkash Rupela, Soil Scientist formerly with ICRISAT & consultant to FAO, Hyderabad
  77. Dr P K Prasadan, Botanist, University of Calicut, Kerala
  78. Dr Partha Chakraborty, Scientist, CSIR, IICB, Kolkata
  79. Dr Parthib Basu, Associate Professor, Ecology Research Unit, Dept of Zoology & Centre for Pollination Studies, Calcutta University
  80. Dr Partho Sarothi Ray, Asst Professor; Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance Intermediate Fellow, Dept of casino Biological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata
  81. Dr Ponnammal Natarajan, Retd. Dean, Anna University, Tamil Nadu
  82. Dr Prabhakar Gadre, Research Officer, Rajwade Sanshodan Mandal, Maharashtra
  83. Dr R Jayaraj, Scientist, Division of Forest Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala
  84. Dr R Jayaraj, Scientist, Division of Forest Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala, India
  85. Dr R S Raghu, Ex-Dean, College of Agriculture, Madhya Pradesh
  86. Dr Rajesh N L, Assistant Professor, Department of Soil science and Agricultural Chemistry, College of Agriculture, UAS, Raichur, Karnataka
  87. Dr Rajeshwari Raina, Scientist, National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, New Delhi
  88. Dr Rajinder Kumar, Dept of Human Biology, Punjabi University, Patiala
  89. Dr Ram Awasthi, Retired Chief Medical Officer, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
  90. Dr Ratan Khasnabis, Institute of Developmental Studies, Kolkata
  91. Dr Rudraradhya, Retd Senior Plant Breeder, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore
  92. Dr S C Deshmukh, Retd Chief Scientist, Agricultural University, Madhya Pradesh
  93. Dr S Jeevananda Reddy, Former Chief Technical Advisor – WMO/UN & Expert – FAO/UN
  94. Dr S R Sharma, Former Cane Commissioner, Madhya Pradesh
  95. Dr Safique Ul Alam, Vice President, Breakthrough Science Society, West Bengal
  96. Dr Sagari Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist, Hyderabad
  97. Dr Santhi, Ecologist, Trivandrum, Kerala
  98. Dr Sarala Panickar, Entomologist (Retd), Kerala Agriculture University
  99. Dr Saravana Babu, Enviromental Biotechnologist, Erode, Tamil Nadu

104.        Dr Satpute, Ex-Dean, College of Agriculture, Madhya Pradesh

105.        Dr Seema Purushothaman, Professor (Development Studies) at Azim Premji University, Bangalore

106.        Dr Shaji, Expert in Fisheries, Formerly Scientist, Kerala State Biodiversity Board

107.        Dr Sheela Mishra, Nutrition Expert, Bhopal MP

108.        Dr Shri Gopal Kabra, Toxicology and Epidemiology Expert, Jaipur

109.        Dr Shri Ram Parihar, Principal, Govt. Girls Postgraduate College, Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh

110.        Dr Shyam Sundar Dipti, Government Medical College , Amritsar

111.        Dr Siddhartha Gupta, Pathologist, CPT Hospital, Kolkata

112.        Dr Sivaraman, Expert in Indian Systems of Medicine, Chennai

113.        Dr Sujata Goel, Molecular Biologist, WAPRED, Madikeri, Karnataka

114.        Dr Sujatha Byravan, PhD, Scientist based in Chennai, Former President, Council for Responsible Genetics, Cambridge, Massachusetts

115.        Dr Suresh Mishra, Retired Professor, Bhopal

116.        Dr Suresh Verma, Retired Principal, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

117.        Dr T K Maqbool, Professor in Zoology, Calicut University, Kerala

118.        Dr T S Channesh, Agriculture Scientist, UAS Bangalore

119.        Dr Tarak Kate, PhD in Botany, Dharamitra, Wardha

120.        Dr TAVS Raghunath, Agricultural Entomologist, Hyderabad

121.        Dr Tejas Borwankar, Molecular Biology & Proteomics, Scientific Lead, Bonanza Labs, Pune, Maharashtra

122.        Dr Tejbir Singh, Community Medicine, Govt Medical College, Amritsar

123.        Dr Thara K G, Member, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, Govt. Of Kerala (Head, Disaster Management Centre, Institute of Land and Disaster Management, Revenue Dept. Kerala)

124.        Dr Thomas Varghese, Soil Scientist (Retd.), Kerala Agriculture University, Ex-Chairman, Kerala State Agriculture Prices Board

125.        Dr Tushar Chakraborty, Principal Scientist, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata, West Bengal

126.        Dr TV Sajeev, Scientist (Entomologist), Forest Health, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Kerala

127.        Dr Usha Balram, Professor and Head (Retd.), Dept of Zoology, All Saints College, Trivandrum, Kerala

128.        Dr Utkarsha Ghate, Environmental Sciences, Covenant Centre for Development (CCD), Durg, Chattisgarh

129.        Dr V N Shroff, Ex-Dean, College of Agriculture, Madhya Pradesh

130.        Dr V S Vijayan, Chairman, Salim Ali Foundation, Former Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board; Former and Founder Director, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural Studies (SACON, a Centre of Excellence of the Govt of India)

131.        Dr V T Sundaramurthy, Entomologist and Formerly, Project Coordinator and Head, All India Cotton Coordinated Improvement Project, CICR

132.        Dr Vandana Shiva, Navdanya, Magsaysay Award Winner, New Delhi

133.        Dr Veena Shatrughna, Deputy Director (Retd), National Institute of Nutrition

134.        Dr Vibha Taluja, PhD Genetics, Panchkula

135.        Dr W R Deshpande, Ex-Joint Director (Research and Extension), JNKVV, Indore

136.        Dr Yashpal Sharma, HoD, Cardiology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh

137.        Dr. Nasim Ali, Asst. Professor, Rama Krishna Mission, Vivekananda University


139.        Prof A Prasada Rao, Professor of Soil Science (Retd), ANGR Agricultural University, Hyderabad

140.        Prof B N Reddy, Professor of Botany, Osmania University, Hyderabad

141.        Prof Jagmohan Singh, Formerly with IIT Kharagpur

142.        Prof K K Krishnamurthy, Former Dean, TNAU and President, Indian Society for Certification of Organic Products, Coimbatore

143.        Prof K R Chowdry, (Retd), Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad

144.        Prof K Satya Prasad, Professor of Botany, Osmania University, Hyderabad

145.        Prof M K Prasad, Ex-Pro-VC, Calicut University, Ex-Chairman, Information Kerala Mission

146.        Prof Mahadev Pramanik, Department of Agronomy, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Vidyalaya, West Bengal

147.        Prof Mohan Rao, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU, New Delhi

148.        Prof N Venugopala Rao, Professor of Entomology (Retd), ANGR Agricultural University, Hyderabad

149.        Prof P Malarvizhi, Soil Scientist, Directorate of Natural Resource Management, TNAU

150.        Prof Rathindra Narayan Basu, Former Vice Chancellor, Calcutta University

151.        Prof Satya Kinkar Pal, (Retd), Dept. of Agriculture Science, University of Calcutta

152.        Prof Shambu Prasad, Science, Technology & Society Studies expert, Bhubaneswar

153.        Prof Subhasis Mukhopadhyay, Dept of BioPhysics, Molecular Biology and BioInformatics, Calcutta University

154.        Prof Sudarshan Iyengar, Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad

155.        Prof T K Bose, Horticulture expert, and former Member, West Bengal State Agriculture Commission, West Bengal

156.        Prof Umesh Mishra, Retired Professor of Physics, Chandrapur, Maharashtra



The following table has been created not because we believe that there is a correlation between GMO crop cultivation and food security/hunger indicators, but to show that across countries, there is no trend to show that GM crop adoption and improvements in food security indicators are related. Food Security is obviously a more complex phenomenon than a simple techno-fix in one agricultural input. We have not included India, China and Pakistan in this table, given that they have approved GM cotton, a non-food crop. The case of Brazil shows that improvements in reducing undernourishment in the population were actually better before the GM crop era. In Paraguay and Bolivia, things seem to have worsened while in Argentina, there is no change apparent. However, Peru which rejects GM crops shows significant improvements.






PARAGUAY HT soybean is the main biotech crop, though Bt cottonwas approved in 2012. It has 2% of the global transgenic crop area, with 2.8 mn ha devoted to HT soybean. Total arable land is 4.3 mn ha, with 27% population employed in agriculture 2004 (after several years of illegal cultivation) 12.6% in 2004-06


Global Hunger Index in 2001: 5.4

25.5% in 2010-12


Global Hunger Index in 2012: 5.3


Percentage of malnourishment increased during the period of transgenic crop expansion by more than double. No significant change in the GHI.

BRAZIL Second largest grower of biotech crops after USA (19% of the global biotech area in 2011 was in Brazil);

Soybean, Maize & Cotton on 30.3 mn ha with just HT soybean on 20.6 mn ha. Total arable land is 59.6 mn ha, with 21% population employed in agriculture

2003 (after illegal cultivation?) 8.7% of total population were undernourished in 2004-06



Global Hunger Index in 2003: 5.43

6.9% of total population is undernourished (2010-2012)



Global Hunger Index in 2012: <5


Between 1999-2001 and 2004-06, the percentage of undernourished in total population reduced from 12.1% to 8.7%. This decrease in undernourished population has however decelerated in the years of expansion of GM crops!!

ARGENTINA Third largest grower of transgenic crops (15% of global biotech area in 2011 was in Argentina); Soybean, Maize and Cotton on 23.7 mn hectares (out of which, 19.1 mn ha is of just HT soybean). Total arable land is 33.2 mn hectares, with 1% population employed in agriculture 1996 Less than 5% in 1999-2001


Global Hunger Index in 1996: <5

Less than 5% in 2010-12, with no change

Global Hunger Index in 2012: <5


No significant change in undernourished in years of expansion of transgenic crops.

BOLIVIA HT soybean grown on less than 1 million hectares (910,000 hectares in 2011), out of a total arable land of 3.6 mn ha. 43% of population employed in agriculture. 2008 – a new Law of 2011 however prohibits introduction of modified organisms in Bolivia 27.5% of population undernourished in 2007-09.


Global Hunger Index in 2008: 11.7

24.1% of population undernourished in 2010-12.


Global Hunger Index in 2012: 12.3




SOUTH AFRICA 1% of global transgenic area in South Africa, on 2.3 million hectares in all, with Maize, Soybean and cotton in their transgenic versions grown (Soybean and cotton are not even on half a million hectares). Total arable land is 14.7 million hectares, with 8% population employed in agriculture 1998 Less than 5% in 1999-2001


Global Hunger Index in 1997: 7.32

Less than 5% in 2010-12


Global Hunger Index in 2012: 5.8



No significant change in undernourished in years of expansion of transgenic crops.


CHILE Only 42,300 hectares of transgenic maize, canola and soybean, exclusively for seed exports; total arable land is 1.27 mn hectares in 2009  (1.98 mn hectares in 1996). 11.2% of total employment was in agriculture in 2009. 1996 Less than 5% of population undernourished



Global Hunger Index in 1997: <5

Less than 5% population undernourished – no change


Global Hunger Index in 2012: <5

No significant change in undernourished in years of expansion of transgenic crops.
PERU Total arable land is 3.7 million hectares. 0.8% of total employment is in agriculture. NO GM CROPS 22.5% of population undernourished in 1999-2001

Global Hunger Index in 2003: 7.83

11.2% of population undernourished in 2010-12


Global Hunger Index in 2012: 7.4

VENEZUELA Total arable land is estimated to be 2.75 million hectares in 2009, according to a World Bank report of 2010. 8.50% of total employment was from agriculture. NO GM CROPS 15.5% of population undernourished in 1999-2001


Less than 5% of population undernourished in 2010-12




BANGLADESH 45% of labour force in agriculture in 2008. NO GM CROPS 18.4% in 1999-2001 16.8% in 2010-12  


Source: Figures related to Proportion of Undernourished To Total Population were taken from Pp 47-49, of “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012” (FAO, WFP and IFAD. 2012. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012. Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to accelerate reduction of hunger and malnutrition. Rome, FAO.)


Transgenic crop area adoption figures were taken from ISAAA’s website, accessed on Dec.8, 2012


Global Hunger Index for 1997 and 2003 drawn from Global Hunger Index 2006, published by Welt Hunger Hilfe and International Food Policy Research Institute. For Bolivia, GHI 2008 was used.


Global Hunger Index for 2012 drawn from Global Hunger Index 2012 – The challenge of Hunger: Ensuring sustainable food security under land, water and energy stresses, Welt Hunger Hilfe, International Food Policy Research Institute and Concern Worldwide.


Appendix 2: Non-GM Breeding Successes

1.     Bernard C Y Collard and David J Mackill, 2008. Marker-assisted selection: an approach for precision plant breeding in the twenty-first century. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 12 February 2008 vol. 363 no. 1491 557-572

Abstract: DNA markers have enormous potential to improve the efficiency and precision of conventional plant breeding via marker-assisted selection (MAS). The large number of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) mapping studies for diverse crops species have provided an abundance of DNA marker–trait associations. In this review, we present an overview of the advantages of MAS and its most widely used applications in plant breeding, providing examples from cereal crops. We also consider reasons why MAS has had only a small impact on plant breeding so far and suggest ways in which the potential of MAS can be realized. Finally, we discuss reasons why the greater adoption of MAS in the future is inevitable, although the extent of its use will depend on available resources, especially for orphan crops, and may be delayed in less-developed countries. Achieving a substantial impact on crop improvement by MAS represents the great challenge for agricultural scientists in the next few decades.

2.     Greenpeace International (2009). “Smart Breeding”

Marker-assisted selection (MAS) is a modern plant breeding technique that can offer benefits to farmers developing climate or diseases resistant varieties, without the need for genetic engineering. While genetically-engineered plants have gained much public attention, another modern breeding technique called MAS (marker-assisted selection) has gone through a silent revolution in recent years. MAS is a technique that does not replace traditional breeding, but can help to make it more efficient. It does not include the transfer of isolated gene sequences such as genetic engineering, but offers tools for targeted selection of the existing plant material for further breeding. MAS has already proven to be a valuable tool for plant breeders: it requires less investment, raises fewer safety concerns, respects species barriers, and is accepted by the public. This report highlights dozens of examples of already marketed MAS-bred varieties, demonstrating its high potential to meet challenges such as a changing climate, disease resistance or higher nutritional qualities.

  1. Non-GM breakthroughs

A compilation of stories on such breakthroughs from just two years – 2010 and 2009 is presented here.


Late blight resistant non-GM potato improves Andean smallholders’ production (June 2010)

Blight-resistant potato means no need for GM (June 2010)

Making Kenyan maize safe from deadly aflatoxins with non-GM biocontrol (June 2010)
Natural, safe, cost-effective

Africa: researchers start to develop non-GM striga resistant sorghum (June 2010)

US scientists develop low-allergy peanuts (June 2010)
Scientists in the US are developing “low-allergy” peanuts, offering hope to thousands of people with allergies associated with the popular seed.

Drought-tolerant and striga-resistant maize released in Ghana (April 2010)
Ghana has released four Quality Protein Maize varieties tolerant of drought and resistant to striga hermontica -a parasitic weed that reduces maize yield – to farmers to boost maize production in drought-prone areas of the country.

Salt-tolerant wheat developed in Australia (April 2010)
CSIRO researchers have developed a salt tolerant durum wheat that yields 25 per cent more grain than the parent variety in saline soils.

US scientists develop high-yielding tomato (March 2010)
A mutation in a single gene turned hybrid tomato plants into super producers capable of generating more and much sweeter fruit without genetic engineering.

High yielding, multi-disease resistant, non-GM bean success in Rwanda (February 2010)
An excellent example of the success of traditional plant breeding practices – multi-disease resistant, very high yielding, no mention of GM and apparently freely distributed without IP ties. What would the GM lobby give for one good success story like this?

USDA scientists to release drought-resistant soybean line (February 2010)
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Tommy Carter, Ph.D., and his team of researchers plan to soon release a soybean breeding line offering drought-tolerant traits.

Non-GM drought-tolerant pigeon peas released in Kenya (February 2010)
Faced with increasingly unreliable rains, farmers in Kenya”s eastern district of Mbeere South have started growing drought-tolerant crops to meet their food and subsistence needs instead of the staple maize.


Scientists closer to developing dual-resistance non-GM cassava (August 2009)
IITA scientists are a step closer to making a breakthrough in developing cassava that is resistant to both the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and the Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD).

UK scientists breed non-GM purple potato (January 2009)
They have remained an unchanging staple of the British diet for generations with hardly a nod to more health-conscious consumers. But scientists may now have come up with the perfect chip, which not only tastes good, but could prolong your life. The only downside is that it is purple.

German potato breeder launches non-GM high amylopectin potatoes (September 2009)
Starch from these potatoes contains a substance called amylopectin that will be used in food, paper, adhesives, textiles and building applications.

Cibus Global to develop non-GM herbicide tolerant potatoes (December 2009)
A global biotech firm has announced plans to use its patented technology to develop potatoes more tolerant of certain herbicides and less susceptible to blackspot bruise.

US scientists breed non-GM scab-resistant apple (January 2009)
A new, late-ripening apple named WineCrisp which carries the Vf gene for scab resistance was developed over the past 20 plus years through classical breeding techniques, not genetic engineering. License to propagate trees will be made available to nurseries through the University of Illinois.

US researchers develop pest-resistant pepper (September 2009)
A new red-fruited habanero is the latest pepper with resistance to root-knot nematodes to be released by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

US scientists develop pest-resistant chickpea (August 2009)
Chickpeas, high in protein, fiber and other nutrients, are important legume crops the world over. But humans aren”t the only consumers: the larval stage of the beet armyworm moth likes to eat the crop”s leaves. But new lines of resistant chickpeas developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their collaborators could put the kibosh on this crop-damaging pest”s voracious appetite, and potentially save on chemical insecticides used to fight it.

Uganda: new drought-tolerant non-GM rice variety (October 2009)
The first rains arrived in June in Padibe-East County, part of the Kitgum District, close to the border between Uganda and South Sudan. It was a light rain, but a very welcome one for Alphonso Oyo, who had planted a new variety of high yielding NERICA (“New Rice for Africa”) rice, and was waiting impatiently for it to flower.

Flood-resistant non-GM rice (February 2009)
At the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), scientists have developed a rice variety with high tolerance to submersion under water for extended periods.

New non-GM rice strain could help atopic dermatitis and diabetes (December 2009)
The rice contains highly concentrated Cyanidin-3-Glucoside or C3G which is known to ease symptoms of atopic dermatitis and diabetes.

Christopher.S,  Cordero.G et al (2004). Marker assisted selection in rice improvement. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australian Government. 

The molecular marker systems currently available, Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs), or microsatellites, are most suited to routine application in breeding programs. Analysis of SSRs utilises the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR is relatively simple, quick and safe and requires only small quantities of  DNA

Rudi N, Norton G (2010). Economic impact analysis of marker-assisted breeding for resistance to pests and postharvest deterioration in cassava. AfJARE Vol 4 No2.

The paper estimates the benefits of using marker-assisted breeding, as compared to conventional breeding alone, in developing cassava varieties resistant to cassava mosaic disease, green mite, whitefly and post-harvest physiological deterioration in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda. Marker-assistedbreeding is estimated to save at least four years in the breeding cycle for varieties resistant to the pests and to result in incremental net benefits over 25 years in the range of $34 to $800 million depending on the country, the particular constraint and various assumptions. Benefits may reach as high as $3 billion for resistance to post-harvest physiological deterioration, as conventional breeding is not projected to solve the problem within a reasonable time frame. impact analysis of maker.pdf

Blair M, Fergene M etal . Marker-assisted selection in common beans and cassava. The specific genes for MAS selection were the bgm-1 gene for bean golden yellow mosaic virus (BGYMV) resistance and the bc-3 gene for bean common mosaic virus (BCMV) resistance. MAS was efficient for reducing breeding costs under both circumstances as land and labour savings resulted from eliminating susceptible individuals. The use of markers for other simply inherited traits in marker-assisted backcrossing and introgression across Andean and Mesoamerican gene pools is suggested.

Clements R, Haggar J (2011). Technologies for Climate Change Adaption, Agriculture Sector. UNEP.

Zhai, W., Wang, W., Zhou, Y., Li, X., Zheng, X.W., Zhang, Q., Wang, G.L. & Zhu LH (2001). Breeding bacterial blight-resistant hybrid rice with cloned bacterial blight resistance gene Xa21. Molecular Breeding 8: 285 – 293. The cloned bacterial blight (BB) resistance gene Xa21 was transferred into Minghui63, a widely used restorer line of indica hybrid rice in China, through an Agrobacterium-mediated system. Molecular and resistance analyses revealed that the Xa21 gene was integrated in the genomes of transgenic plants and their progeny inherited resistance stably. For the purpose of hybrid breeding, Xa21 transgenic homozygous restorer lines were selected through ‘within-lane’ dosage comparison of hybridization signal in combination with PCR and resistance analyses. The selected transgenic restorer lines were then crossed with a commonly used sterile line, Zhenshan97A, to produce Xa21 transgenic hybrid rice, Shanyou63-Xa21. The hybrid rice plants with Xa21 displayed high broad-spectrum resistance to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) races and maintained elite agronomic characters of Shanyou63. The propagation of this BB-resistant hybrid variety with Xa21 will benefit rice production.

Brown TCW & Thorpe TA. Crop Improvement through Tissue Culture.  WorldJournal of Microbiology &Biotechnology 11, 409-415. Articles/Tissue Culture Applications/Crop improvement through tissue culture.pdf

Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat Project by Cornell University.  The ability of the world”s farmers to meet current and future demand for wheat is threatened by the highly virulent stem rust population emerging from East Africa. This project will mitigate that threat through coordinated pathogen surveillance activities, and breeding initiatives. Together, these efforts will replace susceptible varieties in farmer”s fields with seed of durably resistant varieties, created by accelerated multilateral plant breeding, and delivered through optimized developing country seed sectors.

The project uses conventional breeding, where varieties with good drought tolerance characteristics are cross-bred to get final products which are both productive and nutritious and grow well in African conditions. In particular, the DTMA provide farmers with better yields than leading commercial varieties under moderate drought conditions, while giving outstanding harvests when rains are good.

Non-GM anti-cancer purple tomato (December 2011). Researchers in Brazil recently developed a new non-genetically modified purple tomato which may help prevent certain diseases. Three scientific researchers from the University of Sao Paulo successfully cultivated the purple tomato, high in anthocyanin, after ten years of research. The new breed is a hybrid between the common tomato, Chilean tomato, and a wild tomato in Galapagos Islands. According to researchers this purple tomato is richer in nutrient compared to the common tomato.

A QUEENSLAND maize breeding program is producing adapted, high yielding lines to enhance export opportunities into non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) Asian maize markets.

Washington, D.C. Scientists have shown for the first time that ‘orange’ maize is a good source of vitamin A. This means that orange maize, a variety of maize bred to improve nutrition, could provide vitamin A through the diet to millions of poor people at risk of vitamin A deficiency. The maize was bred using conventional means (non-GMO) to have higher levels of beta-carotene, which gives it its orange color. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.‘orange’-maize-good-source-vitamin

Siar SV etal (2011). Papaya ring spot virus resistance in Carica papaya via introgression from Vasconcellea quercifolia.

CGIAR (2009). More than 50 new non-GM drought-tolerant maize varieties released for African farmers. These varieties yield 20-50% more than others under drought, on hundreds of thousands of hectares.

Organic farmer develops aphid-resistant soybeans,(August 2010).

CSIRO develops non GM wheat salt resistant wheat in Australia (2010). A variety of wheat that thrives on salty soils has been bred by scientists who say they will make it freely available to the developing world.  The enhanced durum wheat is 25 per cent more productive in saline soils than its normal counterpart, according to Rana Munns, chief research scientist at the Australia-based CSIRO Plant Industry.

US scientists develop non-GM high-yielding tomato (March 2010).  A mutation in a single gene can turn hybrid tomato plants into super producers capable of generating more and much sweeter fruit without genetic engineering. The mutation in one copy of the gene boosted tomato yield by up to 60 percent and increased sugar content, Lippman and colleagues reported in the journal Nature Genetics.


Bernier, J., Kumar, A., Serraj, R., Spaner, D. & Atlin, G. (2008). Review: breeding upland rice for drought resistance. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 88: 927 – 939.  The use of molecular markers to perform selection may eventually provide plant breeders with more efficient selection methods. To date, many quantitative trait loci (QTL) for drought resistance have been identified in rice, but few are suitable for use in marker-assisted selection. However, large-effect drought resistance QTL have now been identified and may enable effective use of marker-assisted selection for drought resistance.


Bouis HE. (2003). Micronutrient fortification of plants through plant breeding: can it improve nutrition in man at low cost? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society62: 403 – 11.

Some successes in increasing the mineral content of staples can be achieved in the short term through conventional breeding techniques, because of the inherent compatability of high yields and trace mineral density in the seeds.


Collard, B.C.Y. & Mackill, D.J. (2008). Marker-assisted selection: an approach for precision plant breeding in the twenty-first century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363: 557 – 572. Plant breeding will play a key role in this coordinated effort for increased food production. Given the context of current yield trends, predicted population growth and pressure on the environment, traits relating to yield stability and sustainability should be a major focus of plant breeding efforts. These traits include durable disease resistance, abiotic stress tolerance and nutrient and water-use efficiency. html


Salazer L, Winters P, etal (2009). Assessing the impact of late blight resistant varieties on smallholders’ potato production in the Peruvian Andes. International Potato Centre.

A report released by the International Potato Center (CIP) has shown that disease resistant potato cultivars bred by the Center have made an important impact in the Peruvian Andes, with an estimated net benefit accruing to farmers through the adoption of one particular variety, Amarilis, amounting to almost US $ 9 million. The most sustainable means of controlling the disease is by developing resistance in the potatoes. CIP and its partners have been developing and promoting late blight resistant cultivars for over two decades. Recent advances, such as DNA fingerprinting of the pathogen and the genetic sequencing of the potato, have provided vital information for breeders, who use a complex process of recurrent selection to breed varieties with durable late blight resistance. Amarilis, a variety with high-level resistance, was bred by the Center and first released by Peru’s National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) in 1993.

Fifteen varieties of beans developed by the Rwandan Agricultural Research Institute (ISAR) in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), could benefit smallholder farmers in similar areas across Central and East Africa. Unlike the more commonly-planted “bush beans”, the beans are resistant to legume diseases such as anthracnose, root rot and ascochyta, which are found in damp, higher altitude areas. The new climbing beans are also higher yielding, producing triple and even quadruple the yields of bush beans.

The Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), scientists are developing a rice variety with high tolerance to submersion under water for extended periods.  IRRI has produce three widely grown varieties of rice that are flood tolerant – the Swarma and Mahsuri from India and the IR64 produced at IRRI’s facility in the Philippines. The new varieties being developed are designed to withstand up to three weeks of submergence and recover after flood waters subside.

A new red-fruited habanero is the latest pepper with resistance to root-knot nematodes to be released by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. PA-559 is the first red-fruited habanero-type pepper released by ARS plant geneticist Richard Fery and plant pathologist Judy Thies-both with the agency”s U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C.-that has resistance to the southern root-knot nematode. It is also resistant to the peanut root-knot nematode and the tropical root-knot nematode.

High seed yield and unique resistance to nematodes and several diseases are the key qualities of new soybean lines developed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station in Knoxville. According to Prakash R. Arelli, a geneticist at the ARS Nematology Research Unit in Jackson, the new lines have broad resistance to multiple races of soybean cyst nematode (SCN). This is the most destructive soybean pest in the United States, causing an annual estimated loss of $1.1 billion.

Gupta, H.S., Agrawal, P.K., Mahajan, V., Bisht, G.S., Kumar, A., Verma, P., Srivastava, A., Saha, S., Babu, R., Pant, M.C. & Mani, V.P. (2009). Quality protein maize for nutritional security: rapid development of short duration hybrids through molecular marker assisted breeding. Current Science 96 (2): 230 – 236. Quality protein maize (QPM) originally developed in the late 1990s at CIMMYT, Mexico possesses roughly twice as much usable protein as normal maize grown in the tropics. The improved quality of the protein in QPM is due to enhancement in lysine and tryptophan – the two limiting amino acids that are known to be regulated by opaque2 gene and associated modifiers. QPM has widely been adopted for cultivation in the developing world to fight protein malnutrition. In India, QPM was released for commercial cultivation almost a decade ago by introducing QPM lines from CIMMYT. However, all these inbred lines are of longer duration and thus, give rise to QPM hybrids of full season maturity. Utilizing marker assisted selection we transferred opaque2, a recessive gene, to two early maturing Indian inbreds that were, in turn, crossed to give rise to an early duration QPM hybrid, Vivek QPM 9, with 30% higher lysine and 40% more tryptophan while retaining the same level of productivity. Vivek QPM 9 yielded at par with Vivek Maize Hybrid 9 in the multilocation yield trials. Vivek QPM 9 has further been found suitable for cultivation under organic farming.

Sanchez AC etal (2002). Mapping QTLs associated with drought resistance in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench). Plant Molecular Biology 48: 713–726, 2002.

Stay-green is one form of drought resistance mechanism, which gives sorghum resistance to premature senescence under soil moisture stress during the postflowering period. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) studies with recombinant inbred lines (RILs) and near-isogenic  lines (NILs) identified several genomic regions associated with resistance to pre-flowering and post-flowering drought stress. Four genomic regions associated with the stay-green trait using a RIL population developed from B35 × Tx7000 are identified. These four major stay-green QTLs were consistently identified in all field trials

and accounted for 53.5% of the phenotypic variance.The progress in mapping stay-green QTLs as a component of drought resistance in sorghum is reviewed. The molecular genetic dissection of the QTLs affecting staygreen will provide further opportunities to elucidate the underlying physiological mechanisms involved in drought resistance in sorghum and other grasses.


Jena, K.K. & MacKill, D.J. (2008). Molecular markers and their use in marker-assisted selection in Rice. Crop Science 48: 1266 – 1276. Recent advances in rice genomics research and completion of the rice genome sequence have made it possible to identify and map precisely a number of genes through linkage to DNA markers. Noteworthy examples of some of the genes tightly linked to markers are resistance to or tolerance of blast, bacterial blight, virus diseases, brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens), drought, submergence, salinity, and low temperature and improved agronomic and grain quality traits. Marker-assisted selection (MAS) can be used for monitoring the presence or absence of these genes in breeding populations and can be combined with conventional breeding approaches. Marker-assisted backcross breeding has been used to effectively integrate major genes or quantitative trait loci with large effect into widely grown varieties. Pyramiding different resistance genes using MAS provides opportunities to breeders to develop broad-spectrum resistance for diseases and insects. The use of cost-effective DNA markers derived from the fine mapped position of the genes for important agronomic traits and MAS strategies will provide opportunities for breeders to develop high-yielding, stress-resistant, and better-quality rice cultivars.


Rahman, S., Haque, T., Rahman, M.S. & Seraj, Z.I. (2008). Salt tolerant-BR11 and salt tolerant-BR28 through Marker Assisted Backcrossing (MAB).  MAB strategy was therefore under taken to introgress the ‘Saltol’ QTL into the widely accepted two mega rice varieties BR11 (T. Aman, monsoon) and BR28 (Boro, dry, winter). For ‘Saltol’ QTL introgression crossing was done with the donor parent FL378, a near isogenic line (NIL) which was derived from Pokkali (a salt tolerant donor variety) and repeated backcrossing was done with high yielding varieties BR11 or BR28. After releasing of these two salt tolerant mega varieties, it will be very easier for farmers to produce salt tolerant-high yielding rice which will be more beneficial.




Appendix 3: Bt Cotton & Yields in India

The following is the question asked and answered by Dr K R Kranthi, Director of Central Institute for Cotton Research (Nagpur) on the subject (K R Kranthi, Bt Cotton: Questions and Answers, 2012, Indian Society for Cotton Improvement, Mumbai . Pg 32):


Is the increase in yield because of Bt cotton alone?

Though GM Bt cotton technology has brought down pesticide use by about 50 per cent, it is not correct to assume that cotton yields in India doubled only because of Bt cotton. 

 Bt cotton was introduced in 2002 primarily for bollworm control. Subsequently, there has been a significant leap in the cotton production. During 2001 India produced about 158 lakh bales, which increased to 243 lakh bales in 2004 and 345 lakh bales by 2011. However, it is interesting to note that the yield increase by 2004 was mainly due to the IPM/IRM strategies, new insecticides, new hybrids, new area in Gujarat, apart from the 5.4% area under Bt cotton. The area under non-Bt straight varieties was about 55.0% in 2004 and non-Bt hybrids at 38.0%. Cotton Advisory Board data show that cotton yields increased by about 60 per cent in three years between 2002 and 2004 when the area under Bt cotton was a meager 5.6 per cent and the area under non-Bt cotton was 94.4 per cent. The yields did not increase significantly more than the pre-Bt era even until 2011 when the Bt cotton area touched 96 per cent.

The area under irrigation increased mainly in Gujarat after the year 2000 especially in the form of check-dams in the Saurashtra belt which had new areas of about 8-9 lakh hectares under cotton. Currently about one-third of Indias production is derived from the state which has one-fourth of the cotton area. Clearly, apart from the contribution of Bt cotton, the increase in yield may have also been due to other major changes in the past 8 years. Some perceptible changes include, implementation on IPM and IRM on a large scale by the Ministry of Agriculture and ICAR, the introduction of some excellent cotton hybrids, increase in cotton area in Gujarat from 15 lakh ha to 26 lakh ha, increase in check dams and drip irrigation systems, increase in hybrid cotton area from 40% to 90% and introduction of 6-7 new effective insecticide molecules for bollworm control and sucking pest management.





Appendix 4:

Transgenic R&D Pipeline in India (if TEC recommendations are accepted in toto)

The following is a table extracted from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture’s report on GM Food Crops (pages 398 to 407), with the last column added to look at the status of this product if the TEC’s first set of recommendations are accepted in toto (moratorium on Bt crops, moratorium till independent review on HT crops and crops for which India is the Centre of Origin/Diversity). For all other products, field trials have to follow new conditions but will not be stopped.

Sl Crops Company Name Trail Train/Gene/Event REMARK
1. Cauliflower


Sungro Seeds Research Ltd.




Insect Resistance

cry1Ac event CFE 4

Has to be stopped, because of the Bt gene; However, this is an uninitiated project!
2. Cauliflower


 Nunhems India Pvt. Ltd.


Event Selection


Insect Resistance



RST08-30, 15 events

NO IMPACT, IF CONDITIONS ARE MET; however, unclear if Bt genes are also used in which case it has to stop (96th GEAC meeting minutes make a mention of Cry gene)
3. Cotton Dow AgroSciences India Pvt. Ltd.









Insect Resistance and Herbicide Tolerance



cry1Ac& cry1F (WideStrike = Event 3006-210-23 and Event 281-24-236)


4. Cotton JK Agrigenetics Ltd.




Insect Resistance


cry1Ac (Event-1) and cry1EC (Event-24)

5. Cotton MAHYCO









Insect resistance and Herbicide tolerance (Round up Ready Flex)

cry1Ac & cry2Ab (MON 15985) and CP4EPSPS (MON 88913)

6. Cotton Krishidhan Seeds Ltd. Jalna


Event selection


Insect resistance



Cry1Ac and cry1

7. Cotton Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur




Insect resistance and G hirsutum tolerance



cry1Ac gene

8. Cotton Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur




Insect resistance and G hirsutum tolerance


cry1F gene


9. Cotton Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur




Insect resistance and G arboretum tolerance


Cry1Ac gene

10. Rice Bayer Bioscience Pvt. Ltd.


Event selection


Insect resistance


cry 1 Ab, cry 1Ca & bar genes



11. Rice Avesthagen Ltd.


Event selection


Hybrid vigour


Oryza sativa taipae 309



12. Rice Mahyco




Insect resistance


cry 1Ac gene

13. Rice Metahelix Life

Science Ltd.









Cry 1Ac and Cry1Ab gene

14. Rice M/s. EI DuPont India Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad




Insect resistance SPT maintainer


ZM-AA1-Os-MSCA1-DsRED2 genes and Os-MSCA-1-ZM-AA1-DsRED2

15. Rice University of Calcutta, Kolkata




Insect resistance


Ferritin gene

16. Rice BASF, Mumbai




Insect resistance



containing OS-hox5, Homeobox- Leucine

Zipper gene


17. Tomato Avesthagen Ltd.


Event selection


Increased lycopene content


unedited NAD9

18. Tomato National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology (IARI)


Event selection


Stress tolerance


Antisense ACC synthase gene

19. Tomato Mahyco


Pollen flow study


Insect resistance

Cry 2Ab gene

20. Tomato Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore




Insect resistance to Topso virus


Peanut Bud Necrosis virus (PBNV)

21. Tomato Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore




Insect resistance to leaf curl virus



22. Tomato Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore




Insect resistance to PBNV and TLCV


Peanut Bud Necrosis virus (PBNV) & TLCV

23. Groundnut




Event Selection


Insect resistance


Chitinase gene

24. Groundnut




Event Selection


Coat protein gene (cp) for tobacco streak virus against peanut stem Necrosis Disease


25. Groundnut


University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore


Event Selection


Insect resistance

( stress tolerance)



26. Groundnut


University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore


Event Selection


Insect resistance

(stress tolerance & drought tolerance)



27. Cabbage


Nunhems India Pvt. Ltd.


Event Selection


Insect Resistance

cry 1b and cry 1c gene.

28. Potato


Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla.


Event selection


Insect resistance



RB transgenic

potato clones two lines (904/SP951) of RB


29. Potato


Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla.


Event selection


Insect resistance Solanum tuberosum subsp. Tuberosum




30. Potato


Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi




Insect resistance to GR=PVY



Potato Virus Y

31. Corn


Monsanto India Ltd.



BRL-II trials


Insect resistance and herbicide tolerance

cry 2Ab2 and cry 1A.105 genes, (event MON 89034 and CP4EPSPS genes)

32. Corn Pioneer Overseas Corporation


BRL-1 trials


Insect resistance and herbicide tolerance


Cry1F and CP4EPSPS genes (stacked event of TC 1507 X NK 603)

33. Corn Dow Agrosciences




Insect resistance


Cry 1F (event TC 1507)

HAS TO STOP: Bt food crop
34. Corn M/s. Syngenta Biosciences Pvt Ltd, Pune




Insect resistance


Cry 1Ab gene (Event Bt 11)

35. Sorghum


National Research Centre for Sorghum




Insect resistance


Cry1B gene NRCSCRY1B event 4 and NRCSCRY 1B event 19

36. Sorghum


Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture,

(ICAR), Hyderabad

Event selection Insect resistance


Cry 1B gene



37. Okra Mahyco




Insect resistance.



Cry 1Ac gene

38. Brinjal


Bejo Sheetal Seeds Pvt. Ltd.




Insect resistance


Cry 1Fa1 (event 142)

39. Brinjal


Sungro Seeds Research Limited




Insect resistance


Cry 1Ac gene

40. Mustard


Delhi University




Yield increase
barnase / barstar gene
41. Mustard


National Research Centre for Plant

Biotechnology (IARI)



drought stress



Osmotin gene

42. Wheat


National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology (IARI)




Effect of mutant strains




43. Watermelon


Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore




Insect resistance



Bud Necrosis Virus

44. Transgenic Papaya


Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore BRL-1


Insect resistance PRSV


cp –gene.

45. Transgenic


Sugarcane Breeding Institute (ICAR), Coimbatore


Event Selection


Insect resistance



Cry1Ab gene

46. Para Rubber Tree


Rubber Research Institute of India, Kottayam




Insect resistance

dismutase gene (cDNA)



[1] Food Security: Concepts & Measurement, FAO (2003) in Trade Reforms & Food Security, (accessed on 1/12/2012) Reiterated in “Food Security” Policy Brief, FAO, June 2006, Issue 2

[2] FAO Statistical Yearbook (2012). Macroeconomy (page 42) Computed from FAO data: total agricultural land is 4.9 billion hectares .

[3] ISAAA Brief 43-2011 Executive summary (2012, February) .

[4] Food Security Status of US Households in 2011. USDA Economic Research Service.

[5]  ibid

[6] Environmental Working Group (2011) USDA subsidies for farms in United States

[7] Glover.D (2009) Undying Promise: Agriculture Biotechnology’s Pro-poor narrative, 10 years on.

[8] has many reports on the subject.

[9] R Ratnakar and M Suryamani. Third Party Evaluation of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana: Community Managed Organic Farming implemented by SERP. Evaluation Report, Extension Education Institute, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, October 2010 AND Ecologically Sound, Economically Viable, Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture in Andhra Pradesh, India

[10] Alex Wijeratna, Fed Up: Now’s the time to invest in agro-ecology. International Food Security Network, June 2012

[11] Altieri.M,  Koohafkan P. (2008)  Enduring Farms: Climate Change, Smallholders and Traditional farming Communities.

[12] Smart Breeding, Greenpeace International, November 2009

[13] Adoption of Bioengineered Crops. By Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo and William D. McBride, with contributions from Hisham El-Osta, Ralph Heimlich, Meredith Soule, Cassandra Klotz-Ingram, Stan Daberkow, Rachael Goodhue, and Corinne Alexander. Agricultural Economic Report No. 810, ERS USDA, 2002

[14] Benbrook, C.,Evidence of the Magnitude and Consequences of the Roundup Ready Soybean Yield Drag from University-Based Varietal Trials in 1998. Benbrook Consulting Services, Sandpoint, Idaho, Ag BioTech InfoNet Technical Paper Number 1, July 13, 1999 and Deng, Ping-Jian, et al. “The Definition, Source, Manifestation and Assessment of Unintended Effects in Genetically Modified Plants.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 88.14 (2008): 2401-2413

[15] Guillaume P Gruere and Yan Sun (2012). “Measuring the contribution of Bt cotton adoption to India’s cotton yields leap”, IFPRI Discussion Paper 01170 – italics are emphasis by the signatories of this letter

[16] V Kumar, Navsari Agriculture University, “Bt cotton – A Gujarat Experience & Issues”, State level dialogue on Emerging Concerns in Gujarat’s Agriculture, Vadodara, 21-22 July 2011

[17] “Ten Years of Bt cotton: False Hype, Failed Promises”, Coalition for a GM Free India, March 2012

[18] Agriculture at Crossroads: International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and technology for Development (2009) at a Crossroads_Synthesis Report (English).pdf

[19] Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter ( 2010)

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