Nobel Prize Winner V. Ramakrishnan favours Genetically Modified Technology

By Jayaprakash Rao

Mysore, Dec. 11 (ANI): Nobel Laureate Venkataraman Ramakrishnan, distinguished scientist in Biochemistry and Biophysics on Thursday said that Genetically Modified Technology held out great potential and benefits in the long run.

He was speaking at the University of Mysore. K S. Rangappa Vice-Chancellor was also present on the occasion.

In reply to a question on opposition to genetically modified crops, Dr.Ramakrishnan said that the technology could be used wisely or ‘stupidly’, but there were many instances where GM technology had its benefits as in case of developing drought-resistant crops or pest resistant varieties that obviate the need for chemical fertilizers.

“The opposition comes from lack of understanding what GM technology stands for. Those who understand GM technology are against MNCs and one should not confuse between the two while making valid estimate of pros and cons of such innovative technology”, he added.

When asked of growing resistance to antibiotics and whether there was a need to prescribe limits, Dr. Ramakrishnan said the phenomena of excessive use of antibiotics was mostly a Western problem but it was abused in countries like India as it was easily available over the counter without any prescriptions.

“As a first step it will be good to clamp down on easy availability of antibiotic drugs and excessive use even in cases when it has no benefits but leads to side effects”, he added.

Dr.Ramakrishnan, who is the first President of Indian origin of the prestigious Royal Society which he has been heading since December 1, said he will look how best to foster exchange programs between scientists and scholars of UK and India.

“Exchange programs work best when it is complimentary and we will try to strengthen it”, he added without mentioning any specific areas.

“The exchange programmes should be flexible and not prescriptive,” he added.

On the funding of science research in India, he said the pattern of funding indicated that there was lack of adequate corporate funding for science besides charity but hoped things would change with emerging start-ups and more number of billionaires.

Though India has many pressing problems, it cannot ignore science if it wants to become a first rate economy with innovations and strong base in science in spite of the fact that India was projected as an agriculture based country,” he added.

India has a number of urgent and pressing problems, and there is need for move investment in science. The Government spends only 1 per cent of the budget in South Korea. In India it is significantly lower if this is compared to various developing nations in spite of advent of industrialisation.

In the long term India cannot become a first rate economy without science and innovation. You want to be innovative in scientific research. India has a number of pressing problems, but there is need for a strong science base to redress these problems.

He further said that molecular biology started off in the 60s but it is only now that we have the benefits of molecular biology.

He also said that in a few places like II Sc, CC MB, people are doing research and first rate work. But there are not enough resources for research even in State universities. It is harder to do research in India than in most places in the west but there are places in India where you have well equipped labs. India is still waiting for a comfortable atmosphere for intense research activities without facing any financial crunches as governments are presently looking at the infrastructure problems, which have a priority.

He also pointed out that many in the Indian Science Congress speakers have claimed that in ancient India many innovations have been made. But science depends on reproducibility if you have not able to do that then it is not science. Indians have made a number of discoveries in the past in mathematics and there are lot of things Indian should be proud of and we do not have to make up things.

Ramakrishnan also said that in most of the advanced countries, funding for science comes from the state, charity and private institutions. But India is lagging behind in all three now that India has billionaires they should think how their money will be spent.

Science is certainly a boon. It can be used for human destruction if you are considering the defence research which seeks to safeguard the nations against enemies or terrorism . But think what life was for human beings 200 years and the life expectancy and security and then you realize that science was responsible for progress of humanity. The nitrogen fixation has helped in obtaining increased yield to feed so many people. (ANI)

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