If you recall a few days back I had said (in one of my blogs) that you cannot aspire to become a director of an agricultural research institute or a vice-chancellor of a agricultural university in India unless you swear by genetic engineering. Well, we have a new director for the premier New Delhi-based Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI). Dr H S Gupta, was formerly the director of the ICAR research centre for the hills, Vivekanand Parvatiya Anusandhan Sansthan, in Almora.
On April 21, the IARI issued a circular for its staff. If you read the circular below, I don't think I need to say anything more.
Dated April 21, 2009
Indian Agricultural Research Institute
It is to bring to your notice that Monsanto has announced grant of $10 M(Rs. 50 Crore) to establish Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug InternationalScholars Program, which will identify and support young scientits' Ph.D study in Rice and Wheat Breeding, two of the world's most staple crops. Dr.Ed Runge, Professor and Billie B. Turner Chair in Production Agronomy(Emeritus) within Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Texas A&M University at College Station, Chair of the Independent Panel of Judges will address the scholars/scientists and deliver the key note address and explain the program and to encourage Ph.D. students in Rice Wheat Breeding to apply. To drive *(derive) *the benefit of his presence, I request that all scientific,technical staff and students to participate in large number. The lecture is schedules for *Saturday, 25th April, 2009 at 3.30 PM Sharp *in Dr. B. P. Pal Auditorium followed by high tea.
I request that everybody should take advantage of this opportunity and make this event a grant *(grand)* success.
Well, this is not only happening at IARI. Most of the Agriculture Universities in India are now becoming GM research hubs for the private biotech companies. In the days to come you will also see Winrock International relaunching its fellowship programme, and of course this time it will be on GM research and corporate agriculture.
Meanwhile, let me take you back to the Vivekanand Parvatiya Anusandhan Sansthan, in Almora. Only a few days before he joined IARI, Dr H S Gupta, who was then heading the Almora research centre, had written a response to Jharkhand Forum list. He was replying to a letter by some Mr Padhi, and published on the email listserver. Dr Gupta's reply (dated March 23, 2009) only goes to establish what I said at the beginning of this blog.
Dear Mr. Padhi,
I agree with Abhishek's view. We must protest the unmindful opposition of GM crops, which were grown in more than 114 million ha area (in 2007) worldwide in the developed as well as developing countries. Some of the NGOs are opposing GM crops by taking advantage of ignorance of general public and they are creating 'SPECULATIVE FEAR'. Over the last five years, India's cotton productivity has increased 2.5 times (191 kg/ha in 2002-03 to 523 kg/ha in 2007-08) which is testimony of the advantage of adoption of GM crops. Of course, we should pay adequate attention to the bioafetys norms set by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India. Let the farmers make an informed choice. We should tell them the advantages as well as disadvantages both.
Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan (VPKAS) ICAR Almora - 263 601 India Ph: 05962 - 230208(o) 05962 - 230130(r)
I wonder how can farmers be expected to make informed choice when the institute is more than keen to promote GM crops research. With agricultural scientists abdicating their responsibility to work for small farmers (in favour of corporate interests), God alone can save Indian farmers.