Bio-nanotechnology will help India’s food security: Pawar


New Delhi : Advances in the area of bio-nanotechnology would go a long way in helping India’s food security, Minister for Food and Agriculture Sharad Pawar said here Wednesday.

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“Bio-nanotechnology takes agriculture from the era of genetically modified (GM) crops to the brave new world of atomically modified organisms,” Pawar said, speaking at the inaugural session of the three-day Fifth Knowledge Millennium Summit on “B2B Bio and Nanotechnology” organised by industry body Assocham.

Taking wheat production as an example, he said: “Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and parts of Uttaranchal and Gujarat produce wheat. And these states have to cater to the demands of the entire country.

“That is the problem with food security. This is where bio-nanotechnology can help us”, biotechnology by boosting crop output, while nanotechnology helped in crop protection.

Stating that bio-nanotechnology was an interdisciplinary science, which emanated from the convergence of biotechnology and nanotechnology, he said: “The potential opportunities offered by such an interface are truly astounding and encompass plant sciences, agriculture, food safety, medicine and disease diagnostics.”

The minister said that modern tools of biotechnology have been successfully deployed to develop GM crops.

“From a negligible area in 1995, the area under GM crop varieties increased to 90 million hectares in 21 countries during 2005 including India. Area under Bt Cotton in India rose to 1.3 million hectares in 2005,” Pawar said.

He added that “The application of biotechnology in the past decade had resulted in an increase in crop productivity, lowering of production costs and increasing the stability of crop production by reducing the losses due to biotic stresses.”

As for nanotechnology, he said it would help in crop protection in a significant manner.

“Early detection of disease incidence can save crops from being damaged on a wide scale. Nanotechnology holds the potential for very early detection and eradication of diseases,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Andhra Pradesh’s Minister for Major Industries, Sugar, Commerce and Export Promotion J. Geeta Reddy said that her state had identified the biotechnology sector as a major growth engine and had now emerged as the leading biotechnology hub in the region.

“I am proud to announce that Andhra Pradesh is the biotech hub of South Asia and is a pioneer with several key firsts to its credit … notably setting up India’s first biotech park under the public-private partnership model in alliance with (Mumbai-based real estate firm) Shapoorji Pallonji,” she said.

Peter Grutter, professor of physics at the McGill University in Canada, gave a presentation on the potential of nanotechnology in various fields.

On the occasion, Assocham honoured Grutter and national research professor C.N.R. Rao with citations for the their contributions in the field of nanotechnology.