But that doesn’t mean the chairman of the India-based Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) believes that farming should remain in the past. Instead, Paroda champions the institutional reforms, policy reorientations and scientific innovations that have facilitated what he describes as India’s “much-needed” continued progression.
“This has led to resilience and increased productivity,” he explains. “I am glad I have had an opportunity to serve society and work towards better food, nutrition and environmental security.”
Paroda engages in “out-of-the-box” thinking to help increase public awareness about the role of science in agriculture, particularly the use of new breeding technologies that can accelerate the process of developing crops with useful traits.
“I am glad I have had an opportunity to serve society and work towards better food, nutrition and environmental security. I was drawn towards genetics, plant breeding, genetic resource management and biotechnology, because I felt that these were the most exciting areas to improve productivity and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.”
“The biggest benefit of plant biotechnology had been to increase crop productivity, helping even smallholder farmers across the world,” he observes, noting that studies have shown farmers in India, Argentina and Brazil earn higher incomes from growing GM crops. “If farmers in other countries had access to this technology they also would have gained substantially.”
In addition to helping farmers enjoy better livelihoods, biotech crops can support food and nutritional security and environmental sustainability, Paroda says. Those qualities are increasingly important as the world population grows to an estimated 9 billion by 2050, requiring 70% more food than is produced today.
“The time is ripe for action now, if we are to successfully meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” he says. “The science academies of the world have declared biotechnology to be safe. If science has served society well, then we need to have faith in science.”