Economy, Domestic Economy

Production of Transgenic Crops Defended

Production of Transgenic Crops DefendedProduction of Transgenic Crops Defended

An Iranian scientist criticized the opponents of transgenic products who have recently mounted a massive campaign even against research in this field.

Behzad Ghareyazie, the chairman of Biosafety Society of Iran, said their attacks make you feel there is no other concern in the country, except the production of transgenic crops.

“Twenty years ago, GM foods made their debut in Iran. Since then, transgenic crops of oilseed, soya, corn and colza are being consumed by people on a daily basis,” he added.

Transgenics refers to processes that remove genetic material from one species of plant or animal and add it to a different species.

There is clear evidence that introduction of genetic engineering in agriculture has resulted in significant benefits such as higher crop yields, reduced farm costs, increased farm profit and improvement in health and the environment.

And like any other new technology, genetic engineering has its own opponents as well. The danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other alien factors in foods and the likelihood of transgenes escaping from cultivated crops into the wild are the potential risks of genetic engineering.  

They also argue that pests are likely to become resistant to the toxins produced by GM crops and these toxins might affect non-target organisms. Opponents often refuse to acknowledge the potential and proven benefits of GM crops that resist pests or drought or have higher concentrations of important nutrients.

Ghareyazie noted that the opponents of transgenic products are in the habit of staying silent in the face of imports.

“They only voice their criticisms when we decide to become self-reliant in making such products. The so-called ‘worriers’ and technophobes are in fact trying to make capital out of imports, which is why they are trying to put a spoke in the government’s wheel,” he said.

Referring to the comments made by Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the importance of acquiring knowledge in biotechnology, stem cell and recombinant drugs, Ghareyazie said, “The government must provide support for production of transgenic products as per the Environmental Safety Law of 2009.”

Most research on GM products has been carried out in developed countries, mainly in North America and Western Europe. However, many developing countries have also established the capacity for these studies, including Iran.

Iran developed transgenic rice in 2004 and cultivated it in 2005; no pesticides were used in cultivating the transgenic produce, which made it healthy and economically viable as crop yields were also higher.

“But unfortunately the infrastructures were destroyed and 120 tons of transgenic rice we had produced were dumped,” he said.

Ghareyazie stressed the fact that transgenic varieties have benefited many farmers across the world in the form of reduced production costs and higher yields.