25 October, 2020

A Dark Lining To The Shine

Bihar should avoid the folly of just looking and sounding good

Illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
A Dark Lining To The Shine

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar recently alleged that Monsanto, the Union environment ministry’s genetic engineering approval committee (GEAC) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had colluded to start trials of genetically modified maize in Bihar before clearance from the environment ministry and the state government. The charge is significant: Nitish says ICAR’s experimental farms in Bihar did not maintain the stipulated “isolation distance” from normal farmland, meant to prevent unapproved crop varieties from getting a toehold in the ecosystem. It’s a pointer to how sections of the establishment, in connivance with corporates, bypass procedural safeguards to stealthily push in what could be hazardous, even, in the process, violating the norms of scientific trial. Stealth keeps these trials below the radar of rational sceptics. The question I want to ask, however, is different: does Nitish realise that the connivance he alleges may have been encouraged by his own rhetoric of a second Green...



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