'GMO not dangerous as many think'
DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Says Nobel laureate Richard John Roberts.
Agriculture needs the technology which enables creation of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in order to feed a growing number of people going hungry and meet their nutrition demands at lower costs, said a Nobel laureate.
“The GMOs are not dangerous for people though they have a wrong perception about it,” said Richard John Roberts, who was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in medicine along with Phillip Allen Sharp for the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing.
“Moreover, the GMO-approach is much safer and much better than traditional agriculture,” he said, adding that traditional methods also create some problems.
He was speaking at a programme organised by the ACI in its Dhaka office on Thursday.
Organisms are genetically modified to either control or develop particular qualities, such as making disease and pest-resistant crops.
The British biochemist and molecular biologist said some people, including Europeans, were running an anti-GMO movement in some countries although 141 Nobel laureates have examined and found no threat associated with the GMO technology.
“So, why will we go by bus to a destination instead of airplane? In the same way, why won't we introduce GMO technology that will give us huge production in a short span of time?”
The Nobel laureate cited an example of the benefits of the GMO technology. In Uganda, GM bananas account for 30 percent of the calorie intake as the native species were killed by a bacterial disease, Roberts said, adding that many African countries were now adopting GMO technologies to grow banana and papaya.
“We have a lot of politicians worldwide who are not scientifically educated to decide. So, a strong political will and understanding is important to ensure policy support to spread GMO.”
Along with the politicians, he said, positive messages about GMO plants have to be spread among students so that they can spread the word among their parents as well.
Roberts praised Bangladesh for having already starting the commercial cultivation of GM crop Bt brinjal and being on way to adopt another, golden rice. “It is a good sign.”
M Anis Ud Dowla, chairman of the ACI Group of Companies, said the company wants to provide better equipment and seeds to farmers. “The ACI conducts research on it.”
FH Ansarey, managing director of ACI Agribusinesses, said the ACI dreamt of making farming more enjoyable and exciting in the future.
“Educated and young people will be attracted to agriculture.”