How Technology fails us: Questions over Bt Bikenari Narma/NH-44 scandal

The Bt Bikeneri Narma/NH-44 scandal as brought few questions in front of us which needs to be answered before spending on any further research on GM crops.

  • How real is the indigenous Bt Cotton:
    • How real are the claims that the chimeric Bt gene used in Bikeneri Narma was originally developed by the ICAR?
    • Did they really developed it or it was only a false claim?
    •  if it is a false claim how come it was not detected during the regulatory testing and approval process? (read the biosafety reports
    • if it is a really indigenous bt cotton then why it was withdrawn?
  • Is contamination the only problem?: 
    • As the reports now claim, is it only the contamination that led to the withdrawl of this variety/hybrid?
    • if contamination is a problem what happend to the originally developed variety Bt BN-1 and hybrid Bt NH-44?
    • instead of withdrawl of these varieties/hybrids why cannot ICAR freshly multiply and supply the same varieties/hybrids?
    • if contamination has happened and there is no mechanism of reviving these varieties/hybrids the following two questions need to be answered
      • If contamination has happened and is inevitable, how come the two other events of Bt cotton (one by JK Seeds and another by Nath seeds) are still in market?  The argument that contamination in hybrids can be avoided as seed is freshly produced every year also do not stand as Bt NH-44 is a hybrid.
      • If contamination is inevitable then how ICAR and SAUs working on the GM crops are going to market their GM crop varieties/hybrids in future?
  • How technology fails us: In the whole debate on GM crops, one of the popular argument coming up is that desi GM crops by ICAR/SAUs will solve all the problems which are faced with the MNC Bt cotton, how true is that claim?  is it only an IPR problem are something more deeper? Can public sector ever develop a GM crop or atleast a hybrid?  Are we really understanding the politics of technology?
    • in crops like Cotton, Maize, vegetables where hybrids are popular the public sector share in the market is less than 1 % inspite of spending crores of rupees on research and having scores of institutions working on developing hybrids and hundreds of hybrids have been developed and released.
      • Why ICAR/SAUs could not market their hybrds in these crops?
      • Without solving the systemic problems the public sector is facing, how can they market any of the GM crops in pipeline even if they develop?
      • GM Cotton, tomato, Castor, Sorghum, paddy and several other crops are in pipeline for more than 10 years in several ICAR institutions and SAUs


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