Here's the Environment Minister, Jiram Ramesh, talking some some sense in the Indian Express:
We cannot depend on private sector to drive the biotechnology research in our agriculture sector . . . India's first green revolution was not powered by the private sector. And there is no reason to believe that the second green revolution would be driven by private companies.The debate has largely focused -- predictably -- on safety issues; indeed, it's the only focus of the NYT article linked in the title. But Ramesh, here, is practically alone in calling attention to another serious concern. It isn't that the agribusiness model is non-Indian or Western or too scientific (Norman Borlaug's recent passing was noted with much sorrow in the national press, here, where he was widely appreciated).
Instead, the problem is that private-sector ag models have resulted in patents and lawsuits and harassment and intimidation of the people who grow our food. These are problems. Is private ag research a bad thing? Not at all. Bullying farmers whose non-GM crops happen to be contaminated by Monsanto's own? That's a bad thing. And I think India is wise, for now, to be avoiding it.
Here's the conclusion from a NYT editorial last October. It's akin to the point Ramesh is making:
Agriculture is at the frontier of technological progress. Its innovations will determine, to a large extent, whether and at what cost this country and the world will be able to feed its growing populations. No company should dominate such an essential business.[Sharp-eyed phronauts will recognize Jiram Ramesh as the same guy who called bullshit on the IPCC's conclusion that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035. The problem isn't that the glaciers aren't melting; it's that those advocating policy to address climate change need credible evidence in place of speculation, especially from bodies like the IPCC.]