China Takes Lead In Developing Biotech Bt Rice

December 4, 2000 Economic Times

China, which first introduced the concept of hybrid rice has taken the initiative to develop the world's very first Bacillus thuringiensis rice, according to Gurdev S Khush, head plant breeding and genetics of the International Rice Research Institute, Manila.

Khush, who was delivering a lecture on 'Rice production' with special reference to hybrid rice, organised by the Karnataka Agriculture Commission here on Sunday, said that bio-technologically-engineered rice helped combat pest attacks, notably the 'stem borer.'

"Land supply would be limited in the years ahead. It is expected that Asia alone would account for 4.8 billion people by 25 which would see the demand for rice swell to about 18,000 million tonnes. In other words, the world would have to add an additional 20m tonnes of rice every year," he said.

Cereal consumption, Khush continued, accounted for 50 per cent of the total global consumption. Rice consumption was placed at 25 per cent of the 50 per cent consumption level, he added.

"Contrary to popular belief that rising income levels lead to lower cereal consumption, demand for cereals would be driven from rising meat production consumption. Feed meal demand is bound to increase in the years ahead," he said.

Delivering the presidential address at the seminar, Karnataka's agriculture minister T B Jayachandra said that the state would be open to the idea of carrying out tests and developing the first Bacillus thuringiensis variety of Indian rice.

Research, he said, was necessary to reduce crop loss which was currently at around 30 per cent. "Karnataka would lead the state in both agriculture as well as the information technology industry. We would like to increase the acreage under hybrid rice to about 1,50,000 hectares by 15," he said.


Copyright Economic Times

Return to the home page of Better Foods