'Sweeping generalisations about GMO not fair'

Salunke said most scientists are willing to test their technologies because that is how science progresses.

Written by: IANS
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Mohanpur, Jan 16: Sweeping generalisations about safety of GMOs are "not fair", an eminent scientist said on Monday.

genetically modified crop

On the GM Mustard controversy, Dinakar M. Salunke, Director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), said plant research has experienced a "setback" because of such activity.

"They (activists) should not interfere in the fundamental research stage. At the level scientists operate, there should not be any controversy. Their (activists') sweeping generalisations, that everything you do is wrong, is not fair. One has to follow a scientific methodology," Salunke told IANS at the IISER-Kolkata campus here.

He was attending the 'Advances in Life Sciences' Conference, organised by IISER's Department of Biological Sciences, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the institute.

Asserting that concerns regarding the GM crop controversy is being addressed, Salunke termed it "unfortunate."

"You don't even know that in your daily diet so much you are taking. It is better that we officially allow this to happen rather than it coming in a clandestine way. One should not ignore possible side effects. One should always be alert," said the eminent immunologist.

Salunke said most scientists are willing to test their technologies because that is how science progresses.

"No scientist will say it is 100 per cent proven but activists will say that. They don't know what to ask. There has been a setback for plant research because of this activity. One should not make this issue as a factor to stop everything," he said, adding concerns raised by people should be addressed with proper dialogue.

ICGEB is part of the United Nations System. Established as a special project of UNIDO, it became fully autonomous in 1994 and now counts over 60 member states. It conducts innovative research in life sciences for the benefit of developing countries.

Salunke said therapeutics for malaria, enzymes for biofuel generation, biotic or abiotic stress in rice and other plants are some of the areas that have the potential for industry collaborations in the future.

Indian pharmaceutical giant Sun Pharma recently partnered with the central government to develop a dengue vaccine that would be safe, effective and affordable.

IANS

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