NEW DELHI—India's new science minister, S. Jaipal Reddy, appears to take a skeptical approach with regard to one of the country's hottest issues: genetically modified (GM) crops. In response to questions from Science at a press conference on Monday, Reddy said "the science is not clear."
Reddy, a graduate in English and a career politician who's known as one of India's finest orators, took over as science minister on Monday in a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In his new job, he will have to navigate the highly charged debate on GM crops. The prime minister's 32-member Scientific Advisory Council expressed its bold support for genetic engineering and biotechnology in a report earlier this month. But on 17 October, an expert panel appointed by India's Supreme Court to advise it on a case recommended a 10-year moratorium on GM crop field trials.
Backers of those studies say the moratorium, if granted, would deal the field a devastating setback and hurt India's development. In a hearing on Monday, the court asked the defendants, including the Indian government and agricultural biotech giant Monsanto, to file briefs in the case by 9 November.