Grain gain or drain?

india will conduct research on developing Golden Rice, a genetically modified ( gm ) variety of rice. "The Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Madurai Kamraj University and University of Delhi will jointly undertake the task of inserting modified genes of Golden Rice into the Indian varieties,' says Manju Sharma, secretary of the Union government's department of biotechnology. Current efforts will focus on ascertaining whether the genes will suit the Indian rice varieties.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has shelved a project to conduct the first field trials of the gm rice. "The gm technology failed in the developed countries, therefore, it is now being dumped on the developing countries. We have evidence that these gm crops will cause irreversible damage to the environment,' alleges Barbara Kuepper of Greenpeace, an international pressure group. But government officials differ. "Rice is a nutrient deficient crop. However, in India it is a staple food for many communities. Therefore, any effort to increase its nutrition value is going to help the masses,' claims Narendra Gupta, executive secretary of the New Delhi-based National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.