Baniani: We can use sewage water for irrigating cotton/we desperately need transgenic (Bt) cotton.
Engineer Baniani from cotton and fibers crop department of the Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Center of Tehran province, believes that Iran should later or soon cultivate insect resistant biotech cotton.
Engineer Baniani from cotton and fibers crop department of the Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Center of Tehran province, believes that Iran should later or soon cultivate insect resistant biotech cotton. Baniani who has delivered his talk on "the use of sewage water on cotton production" at the 5th meeting of Asian cotton research & development network (ICAC) at Lahore Pakistan (23-25 February 2011) says to IRBIC that three most important topics discussed in this meeting were 1) the enormous potential of Bt cotton and significant increase in the area under the cultivation of GM cotton, 2) the cotton fiber technology and 3) the water scarcity and modern irrigation technologies. "All the speakers in the opening ceremony and most of the invited speakers in the first session of the meeting were talking about the economic and environmental benefits of biotechnology cotton. This technology has transformed the economy of several countries including India and Pakistan"; he says. He continues: "We should remember that genetic engineering and biotechnology is not to produce insect resistant plants only, it can be used to improve fiber quality, drought tolerance and also increase the yield, so why don’t we use this technology?".
In this exclusive interview with IRBIC, Baniani explained his opinion on the reason why Iran has not yet adopted the biotechnology cotton in spite of the fact that more than 62% of the whole world cotton is now genetically modified. "I think some people in the Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture and in Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII) do not believe in this technology". "On the other hand I think this technology is not currently available in Iran. I believe we should seriously be considering accessing this technology"; he continued.
This pioneering cotton scientist who has spent more than 30 years of his life on the research and development of cotton in Iran say: "In todays life that science and technology is advancing every at the speed that was not documented in the history, we can no longer use the old and traditional techniques. We should learn from "traditions" and should develop modern techniques based on these traditions. As the supreme leader of the country his Excellency Ayatullah Khamenei has stated in many occasions we need to pay more attention to new technologies including biotechnology. We cannot simply ignore the modern technologies such as biotechnology and genetic engineering or else we will be left behind. If we ignore advanced technologies we have to import our basic needs more and more. "How long this cycle of selling petroleum and introducing cotton, rice, and edible oil can continue?”, he questions.
Engineer Baniani believes we can still save our cotton production in Iran. Although it is now grown on only less than 100.000 ha in Iran, but once in the past, cotton was considered as the second or third export item of Iran and used to be called white gold. What the government needs to do –in his opinion- is to stop importing cotton and to support the local production by mechanization in particular mechanical harvesting of cotton, introduction of biotechnology cotton in particular Bt cotton and financial support to farmers.
Baniani summarizes his presentation at the 5th meeting of Asian cotton research and development network: "Most countries are facing with water shortage and drought problem searching other sources of water such as sewage water as an alternative. It is almost free and reduces the cost of production and helps in better conserving the environment. Sewage water also contains good amount of nutrients for plant and will increase the yield." I presented our own experience and results of our research on using sewage water in cotton production", he added.