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India is emerging as a significant player in the $44-billion global
genetically modified (GM) crop business and is set to become a "centre of
influence" that will help lead development, says a new study, Dezember 2004.
Since the first commercialisation of GM crops in 1996, these are being
grown in 18 countries while 45 others are engaged in research and
development, according to a study, ?The Global Diffusion of Plant
Biotechnology: International Adoption and Research in 2004?.
"The international adoption and diffusion of biotech crops has gone global
and is poised to transform production and development around the world,"
said C Ford Runge, author of the study and director of the University of
Minnesota's Centre for International Food.
Of the global trade in GM crop, 98 per cent is from five countries ? the US,
Argentina, China, Canada and Brazil ? growing one or more of four
biotech-enhanced crops: soybeans, cotton, corn and canola.
The US leads with $27.5 billion worth of GM crops like soybeans, corn,
cotton and canola.
Argentina ranks second, handling $8.9 billion worth of soybeans and corn,
followed by China with $3.9 billion worth cotton, Canada with $2 billion
worth canola, corn and soybeans, and Brazil with $1.6 billion worth
India has only approved commercial cultivation of insect-resistant cotton,
though researchers have conducted field trials on drought-tolerant canola,
insect-resistant cotton and tobacco.
Further experimental research is being conducted on cabbage, potatoes, rice
and tomatoes in India.
"We see continuing expansion of commercial and scientific possibilities for
plant biotechnology in the next decade and beyond," said Runge.
"Major expansions in biotech crop approvals and plantings are expected in
Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa."
While North America is the epicentre for plant biotechnology research, more
than half of the 63 countries engaged in biotech research, development and
production are developing countries, the study pointed out.
"Western Europe, China, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and India
are centres of influence that will help lead development into the future,"
Besides China, which ranks second after the US in research funding, several
other regions are investing heavily in biotech research to improve
agricultural production and rural incomes, the study stated.
South Africa, which has already approved GM varieties of corn, cotton and
soybeans for planting, now ranks sixth in the world in terms of acres
planted with biotech varieties.
"India, where farmers grow and sell insect-resistant cotton, has at least 20
academic and research institutions involved in plant biotech research
covering 16 crops," the study said.
In fact, the study highlighted that many Indian scientists hoped to usher in
a second green revolution using its knowledge based economy, with GM crops
playing a pivotal role.
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