The Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technique is needed to address the issue of global hunger, Nobel laureate scientist Sir Richard Roberts said here on Friday. Contrary to claims that genetically-modified plants were dangerous, the GMO technique was safer than traditional breeding of plants, he said. Roberts was in the city to receive the "UDCT Alumni Association-Institute of Chemical Technology Dhirubhai Ambani Lifetime Achievement Award", instituted by the Reliance Industries.
"Over 800 million people across the world, mostly in developing countries, go to bed hungry every night. They need the GMO technique because this is the best way to improve the crops," he said. Roberts, a molecular biologist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1993. Currently, he is the chief scientific officer at the University of Sheffield in the UK. "The reason we need the GMO technique is that most of the developing world's crops have never been improved by plant breeding.
"With the GM (genetic modification) method, you can actually do your plant breeding in a faster and precise way and it is safer than traditional breeding," he said. The golden rice, a variety of rice, was the perfect example of how a crop could be improved through genetic engineering, Roberts said. He also spoke about his personal life, saying luck played an essential role in his journey. "When you have got some luck, you need to double up your level of efforts," Roberts said, adding that he was lucky to avoid death on 9/11 as he had booked a ticket on one of the planes that were hijacked by the terrorists, but had cancelled the journey a day before.
(With inputs from agencies.)