The chairman of India’s National Commission on Farmers has called on the industry to capitalise on the advantages of biotechnology to develop the country’s agriculture.

Speaking on the fringes of a biotech conference, NCF chairman M. S. Swaminathan said that the Indian agricultural sector would have to find ways and means to harness the benefits of GM for its own purposes, while making sure that the interests of small farmers were protected.

“There are ideological differences and some do not want GM-crops at all but others feel we cannot halt the march of science,” Swaminathan is reported as saying by Asia Pulse. He noted how GM technology could help develop salt and drought resistant varieties of crops.

Alluding to the precarious finances of many farmers, Swaminathan said that many were worried about being burdened by debt should their crops fail after they had borrowed money to buy GM seed, and some kind of insurance would need to be in place to protect them.