GM lobbyist willing to offer expertise! (28/6/2006)

Now here's a kind offer from Dr C S Prakash, who, as this article notes, is director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research at Tuskegee University in the US and a member of the scientific advisory board of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).

Dr Prakash is leading the charge of India's biotech and other experts based abroad who 'have made a name for themselves globally,' and who are now keen, it seems, to offer their expertise to the Indian state of Karnataka 'for a brief period' in order to assist the development of its agricultural sector.

All very kind but if the author of this piece, Satish Kumar, had explained to his readers exactly what the American Council on Science and Health was and exactly how Dr Prakash had made his name globally, it might have given them more insight into Dr Prakash's real expertise and his possible motivation for involvement in this initiative.

John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of PR Watch call the American Council on Science and Health an 'industry front group that produces PR ammunition for the food processing and chemical industries' (Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry). Monsanto, Dow and Dupont are amongst ACSH's funders, and Stauber and Rampton are hardly alone in charging ACSH with being an industry front. ACSH president and founder Elizabeth Whelan says: 'I've been called a paid liar for industry so many times I've lost count.' (ACSH - GM Watch profile) http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=9&page=A

Similar charges have been laid against CS Prakash over his pro-GM AgBioWorld campaign which has had proven links to Monsanto and its PR people. Prakash has also toured the world pushing GM for the US State Dept. (CS Prakash - The Great Deceiver)

The article below says Prakash argues that there's a need for government organisations to take up research from the point of view of poor farmers. That would, of course, be extremely welcome except that when Prakash says 'research' you can be sure he means GM crop rersearch, and when Karnataka's farmers were actually - and unusually! - consulted (via a citizens' jury) about whether they thought GM was their best route for agricultural improvment, they gave it a very decisive thumbs down. (Indian farmers judge GM crops)


Expats Willing to Offer Expertise
B S Satish Kumar
Deccan Herald, June 25, 2006 (via AgBioView)

There is some good news for the state's agriculture sector which is reeling under serious problems. A large number of prominent agricultural scientists, including BT experts from Karnataka who are working abroad, have expressed the desire to offer their expertise for the development of the state's agriculture sector.

These scientists, who have made a name for themselves globally, are ready to come to India for a brief period to associate with the state's research projects and policy initiatives, according to Dr C S Prakash, who is director of the Center for Plant Biotechnology Research in Tuskegee University of the US. "This association with the state will be purely on a voluntary basis and we are not expecting any monetary returns. After all we were given education at the expense of the state's tax payers," he says.

Dr Prakash, who is also a member of the scientific advisory board of the American Council on Science and Health, told Deccan Herald that over 100 agricultural experts from Karnataka are working in the US alone. Most of them were keen on associating with Karnataka projects, says Dr Prakash.

"We are waiting to make a formal offer in this regard to the state government and also hold talks with its representatives," he says. "All that we want is some office space and laboratories to work whenever we come to Karnataka." Apart from offering their services, they also want to get the expertise of their foreign colleagues to Karnataka.

Dr Prakash notes that it is possible to get the best of global experience to Karnataka farming sector through such an association. China has already commenced the move to associate with its expatriate experts to provide a boost to its agriculture sector.

America's agricultural insurance project's top executive is from Karnataka. Similarly, an agricultural expert from Karnataka is heading a leading food processing unit in America. All these people could be of great help in providing crucial inputs to the state, Dr Prakash observes.

Dr Prakash, who headed the erstwhile K-Ganga (Karnataka Global Advisory Group on Agriculture) is also considering reviving it to build a network between the government and the Karnataka experts abroad. Such a network with a few experts and some firms exists even now. But there is a dire need to network with the government, he points out.

Though agricultural research activity is being taken up seriously by the private sector in India, it mainly pertains to major cash crops. Hence there is a need for the government organisations to take up research from the point of view of poor farmers, he argues.

Though Karnataka is the country's leader in BT sector, not much hardcore BT research is going on in the state, Dr Prakash cautions. "Karnataka is just scratching at the surface. Most of the major BT firms in the state are handling soft BT issues like production of bulk drugs and plant tissue culture. But there is not much activity in genetic research."

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive