Churchills words remain true in one important sense. The subcontinent is a world unto itself, full of dizzying diversity.

Yet India does appear united in at least one vital wayIts moving fast toward total acceptance of biotechnology.

We intend to have a biotech policy as quickly as possible to supply to the farmers pest-resistant and drought-resistant seeds with high nutritional value, says Kapil Sibal, the minister of science and technology.

As India joins the biotech club, other countries are bound to sit up and pay attention. بعد كل شيء, India is a country on the rise. More than a billion people call it home todayits the worlds most populous democracy. Some demographers believe Indias population will outnumber Chinas by the end of the century. Theres even talk at the United Nations about India earning a permanent seat on the Security Council.

منذ عامين, India permitted the sale of biotech cotton. And as Minister Sibal has indicated, more approvals of different products are in the pipeline right now.

Indias decision to embrace biotechnology is bound to reverberate throughout the developing world, which has so much to gain from adopting modern agricultural practices. Some nations leaders, خاصة في إفريقيا, have decided to go the way of Europe and reject biotech crops. Theyve done this even though their farmers stand to benefit enormously from biotech-enhanced plants. More surprising still, some countries have remained skeptical of biotech foods that have been donated to alleviate starvation. في بعض الأحيان, this crazy policy has been labeled as better dead than fed.

The European leaders may continue to live in denial, but now developing countries can look to New Delhi for more sensible leadership. The Indians are wisely casting their lot with progress. Their choice will influence everything from the policies of individual governments to world trade talks.

Maybe the Europeans will learn a lesson from the Indians. Thats what British Prime Minister Tony Blair is trying to do. A couple of years ago, he visited the Indian city of Bangalore and met with a group of academics. Europe has gone soft on science; we are going to leapfrog you and you will miss out, they told him. The prime minister summarized their view: They regarded the debate on [التكنولوجيا الحيوية] here and elsewhere in Europe as utterly astonishing. They saw us as completely overrun by protestors and pressure groups who used emotion to drive out reason. And they dont think we had the political will to stand up for proper science.

The humorist P.J. ORourke once wrote of India that sub- is no idle prefix in its application to this continent. He meant these sharp words as a politically incorrect putdown. اليوم, ومع ذلك, India seems positively forward looking when it comes to biotechnology. Thats why Tony Blair returned to the United Kingdom and warned his countrymen that they ignore biotechnology at their own peril.

No matter what Europe decides to do, the Indians themselves are ready to make significant contributions to the science of biotechnology. The Indian Council on Agriculture Research is studying transgenic rice varieties that would stave off the yellow stem borer. Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru University are breeding protein-rich potatoesor protatoesthat will help combat the problem of malnutrition.

Zero child mortality in underprivileged children would be the goal, says Govindarajan Padmanaban, a biochemist at the Indian Institute of Science.

منذ جيل, India was a full partner in the Green Revolution. Its innovations in fertilizers and irrigation have made it possible for India to feed its burgeoning population. And now that the Green Revolution is giving way to the Gene Revolution, its good to see this up-and-coming country decide that it wants a piece of the new action as well.

جون Reifsteck, مزارع الذرة وفول الصويا في مقاطعة شامبين الغربية إلينوي, عضو مجلس إدارة في Truth About Trade and Technology.