Kalpana Chandran, moderator:

Good morning everyone, my name is Kalpana. I’m the moderator of this debate. Today we are going to present the debate on genetically modified crops. The topic is: are genetically modified crops beneficial or harmful to humans?

On my right is the Affirmative team, and on my left is the Negative team. I will give one minute to each speaker to present their points, and I will give one minute to counter their points. Now, the first speaker from the Affirmative team will start the debate.

Karthika Kandasami, Affirmative team:

Good morning everyone, my name is Karthika, I’m the first speaker of the Affirmative team. My first point is, lack of vitamin A causes blindness in all over the world, and affects 50 million children. Vitamin A can be found in milk, butter, meat and yellow vegetables. Normal rice does not have very much of vitamin A. Most [common] example of genetically modified rice is Golden Rice. Golden Rice is called ‘golden rice’ because it is yellow colour and has more vitamin A. Golden Rice also contains iron and zinc. Golden Rice is good for third world countries.

Kalpana, moderator:

Now, the time for countering.

Sukanya Angamuthu, Negative team:

There is no need for Golden Rice. Instead of that we can drink milk, eat meat and green and yellow vegetables.

Durga Velmurugan, Affirmative team:

Sukanya said that we can drink milk instead of eating Golden Rice, but we can’t drink the milk as a meal.

Archana Palanisami, Affirmative team:

Also Sukanya said we can eat meat and green and yellow vegetables. But think of the vegetarians. They don’t eat meat. Then how will they get vitamin A? And green and yellow vegetables, we cannot buy it every day, and it is very costly.

Karthika, Affirmative team:

Green vegetables are not available every day.

Manav Sajan Kasim, Negative team:

But everyone who eats rice normally eats vegetables with their rice. So they will get the vitamin A like that.

Kalpana, moderator:

Time out.

Archana, Affirmative team:

But they eat vegetables with rice. That is a side dish and they cannot eat it as a main dish.

Kalpana, moderator:

Time out.

Now the first speaker from the Negative team will present her points.

Sukanya, Negative team

Good morning everyone. My name is Sukanya, I’m the first speaker of the Negative team. If we grow genetically modified crops, our traditional varieties of rice will be lost. Mostly our traditional varieties of rice have [already] been lost. If we introduce GM crops, fully, our traditional varieties will be lost.

Kalpana, moderator:

Now, the time for countering.

Nitha Surendran, Affirmative team:

Sukanya said that if we use GM crops our traditional varieties of rice will be lost. But already our traditional varieties have been lost because we are using hybrids. So instead of using hybrids, we can use genetically modified crops, and also, it is pest resistant.

Prashanth Ramamurthy, Affirmative team:

We are using hybrids, and for hybrids we are putting more pesticides. So we are eating a poisonous food.

Manav, Negative team:

Because of hybrids, we have lost most of our traditional varieties. But should we lose all of our traditional varieties because of GM crops? And Prashanth said we are eating poisonous food from pesticides, but we can eat organic foods also, no need of GM crops.

Nitha, Affirmative team:

You want to die now, or after 30 years?

Kalpana, moderator:

Time out!

Now, the second speaker from the Affirmative team will present her points.

Nitha, Affirmative team:

Good morning everyone, my name is Nitha. I’m the second speaker from the Affirmative team. I’m going to tell about Bt brinjal. Almost everyone here will eat brinjal. In home when we are cutting brinjal, we will see worms in it. To avoid that, farmers use pesticides. That is bad for our health. We can use Bt brinjal. Bt brinjal is pest-resistant and it is big in size. So the farmers can earn money. And one brinjal is enough for the whole family, so we can also save more money.

Kalpana, moderator:

Now, the time for countering.

Abhijit Anoop, Negative team:

Bt brinjal is having a Cry gene [Cry1Ac]. There are some insects that eat only Bt brinjal. If that insect eats Bt brinjal, that insect will die. There are some birds that will eat that kind of insect. And if that bird didn’t get that insect, that bird species will also die. So a food chain is breaking.

Manav, Negative team:

And many people are dying because of crops like Bt brinjal.

Rahul Ramkumar, Negative team:

Bt brinjals are made in big big companies in America. In America, they will sell it for low price. In other countries, they will sell it for high price. So the farmers are buying loans from bank, and if they cannot pay it back, means, they are committing suicide.

Prashanth, Affirmative team:

It is not a problem with GM crops, it is a problem with companies and our government.

Kalpana, moderator:

Time out!

Now, the second speaker from the Negative team will present his points.

Subash Kanakaraj, Negative team.

Good morning everyone, my name is Subash. I’m the second speaker of the Negative team. GM crops can cause harm to the other organisms. In USA, they did research and found that pollen of GM crops poisoned Monarch butterflies.

Kalpana, moderator:

Now, the time for countering.

Prashanth, Affirmative team:

They are poisoned because it is a Bt corn. They are definitely eating poison.

Nitha, Affirmative team:

And also that can be affected by some other diseases. Not only because of GM crops, it can be affected by some other reasons.

Manav, Negative team:

Nitha said that it can be affected by some other reasons. But US Department of Agriculture tested the pollen of Bt corn and they found that it is poisonous to Monarch butterflies. And Monarch butterflies are not doing any harm to these crops, they are just pollinating the crops. But they are simply dying because of the poison. And they are a very good part of the ecosystem, but now they are endangered.

Prashanth, Affirmative team:

You will put pesticide and kill that monarch butterfly. Anyways, we can kill by that Bt corn. There is no problem...

Kalpana, moderator:

Time up.

Now the next speaker from the Affirmative team will present his points.

Prashanth, Affirmative team:

My name is Prashanth. I’m the third speaker from the Affirmativeteam. I’m going to tell about the GM crops. GM crops are good for our health and environment. Bt cotton is a plant having Cry gene, that any insect cannot attack them. So we don’t want to buy the pesticides and we can save the money. And then, you will also get more money.

Kalpana, moderator:

Now, the time for countering.

Manav, Negative team:

When testing the Bt cotton, many cows die while eating the Bt cotton seeds.

Prashanth, Affirmative team:

How can the cow eat the Bt cotton seeds? And there is no scientific evidence that the cow eats the Bt cotton seeds.

Nitha, Affirmative team:

And cow is not supposed to eat Bt cotton seeds, it is supposed to eat grass.

Manav, Negative team:

Farmers feed cows cotton seeds. So the cows eat Bt cotton seeds. And Prashanth said that there is no scientific evidence. If the company wants to sell all these products, they will hide the scientific evidence, that this is poisonous to people and also animals. One cigarette company said that cigarette is good for health. And like that, after many years they found out that cigarette is bad for health. Like that the GM crops will also be…

Kalpana, moderator:

Time up.

Now, the third speaker from the Negative team will present his points.

Rahul, Negative team:

Good morning everybody. My name is Rahul. I’m the third speaker from the Negative team. I’m going to say that GM crops are bad for humans. While the scientists are modifying the crops, one gene will escape from that, and it will cause harm. In America, one gene escaped and it went to weed and it was growing, growing, growing, and nobody can control it. It is weedicide.

Kalpana, moderator:

Now, the time for countering.

Nitha, Affirmative team:

Rahul said that in America one gene has escaped. But genes are like folders inside a memory card. Unless we take that and put it in another folder, that will not grow. And that is not a living organism to jump from another gene. We must take it and put it in another.

Abhijit, Negative team:

While taking the memory card and putting it in another folder, a virus can also go through that memory card and it can make a damage for that folder.

Manav, Negative team:

The weeds don’t start growing pest-resistantly in one day. It is only because of the GM crops.

Nitha, Affirmative team:

The virus, if it went inside, it will be destroyed. It will not jump.

Archana, Affirmative team:

And Rahul said that gene may escape, and it went to the weeds. But when they modify, they modify in a lab…

Kalpana, moderator:

Time out.

Now, we have finished our debate

P. Sainath
psainath@gmail.com

P. Sainath is the founder editor of the People's Archive of Rural India. He has been a rural reporter for decades and is the author of 'Everybody Loves a Good Drought'.

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