Bt Brinjal

It is always  interesting when your intuition is more accurate then punditry advocated in  literature or media.   If I believe in mainstream Indian media, crops like Bt. Brinjal is the future.   According to Pundits it is right because

  • Scientists are saying that it is safe!
  • It will increase productivity and will lead to next green revolution!
  • Opponents are US hater nut-case
  • Govt should not listen to public concern and listen to enlighten people

Here is one example from Bibek Debroy,

Fourth, if significant fixed costs are involved, they have to be recouped and prices will be higher than what marginal cost pricing suggests. At best, these are arguments for better use of competition policy instruments.

Fifth, evidence does suggest that Bt crops improve productivity and reduce use of fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides. True, this evidence can be questioned. But as far as I can make out, no one has questioned whether these changes take place. They have questioned the degree (not as high as seed companies claim) and subsequent immunity in pests.

Sixth, Indian productivity levels are low and Bt offers one option of increasing productivity. It is not the only option and the country can take a decision not to use Bt. However, more importantly, shouldn’t farmers have the right to choose non-Bt over Bt, instead of the choice being precluded?

He is one of few authors in Indian media whose writing is almost always  balanced. I was surprised to find such  an ideologically driven article from him.   However, being a good writer he has managed to give most of argument involved. So, let us use it and see how and why he is wrong. My opposition to Bt. Bringal is based on following rationale (in order of priority)

  • Damage to eco-system: Priliminary evidence suggest that genetically modified  seeds can cross-pollinate. This might mean disappearance of   natural seed.  Mr. Debroy says

“Eighth, food safety is always probabilistic, it is never certain. Often side-effects surface later but that is part of life.”

No Mr. Debroy, we have no right to play with the life of future generation.  Even if there is only 1% chance of  biological diversity disappearing, it is enough reason to stop it.

  • Food Independence: How can we let one company control food price?  I remind Mr. Debroy that in  last 10 year price of seeds have skyrocketed in USA. This is not because of any change in business climate.  This happened because Monsanto decided to raise the price. Here is one example of Monsanto ethics.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805?printable=true&currentPage=allQuestion is what control India will have on companies like Monsanto?

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