It was a high-voltage debate all the way when Dr. K K Narayanan and Dr. Devinder Sharma argued about Genetically Modified (GM) crops in an event organized on Friday, the 4 th December 2009 at Bangalore International Centre. The debate which was moderated by Prof. S L Rao was organized by the Centre with the provocative title: “G M Crops in India – Hero or Villain? You decide.”
In his opening remarks Prof. Rao observed that technological changes which improve production and/or productivity are generally welcome; however, modern genetic engineering which often results in transgenic organism might have ramifications which are not as yet fully known.
Dr. K K Narayanan, the MD of Metahelix Life Sciences, Bangalore and a molecular biologist, opened the debate with a combative presentation to show that genetical modifications have been always a feature of agricultural production and that the controversies currently associated with GM crops are both unwarranted and exaggerated. He quoted facts and figures to stress the point that GM crops would go a long way to increase production and reduce scarcity. He was dismissive about apprehensions expressed in different quarters about the likely hazards associated with the introduction and consumption of GM crops.
In an equally spirited response, Dr. Devinder Sharma, a well-known journalist, writer, thinker and researcher felt that GM crops, which basically interfere with Nature, have dangerous consequences. He pointed out that often scarcities are outcomes of human mismanagement and that with better redistribution of what is produced around the world, all the scarcities could be met.
Sparks flew during the debate and continued to fly throughout the interactive session. The audience was clearly polarized, with the majority in favor of the views advocated by Dr. Sharma.
The debate was adroitly and skillfully moderated by Prof. S L Rao with his usual clan.