Forest law amendments: Rich in rhetoric, poor in substance

Source– The post is based on the article “Forest law amendments: Rich in rhetoric, poor in substance” published in “The Indian Express” on 2nd August 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment. GS3- Science and Technology

News– A new genetically modified (GMO) corn varietal called ‘smart corn’ has been introduced by Bayer. This is designed to withstand the increasingly costly pressures of climate change.

What are some facts related to GMO corn developed by Bayer?

Bayer genetically engineered the corn plant by introducing a foreign gene that suppresses the production of gibberellic acid, a plant growth hormone. As a result, the corn can now produce the same quantity of fruit on significantly shorter and stronger stalks.

Purpose– It is specifically developed to combat environmental challenges.

Climate change has led to more severe and costly damage to corn and soy crops due to intensifying high-wind storms. In the United States, these storms are known as derechos. They have caused immense devastation to farms in the Midwest.

In 2020 alone, with winds reaching 160 kmph, they caused billions of dollars worth of destruction across millions of acres of crops.

As a result, there is a growing demand for a crop variety characterized by shorter and thicker stalks, providing better resistance against these high-wind storms.

What are other recent notable crop varieties designed for climate adaptation?

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for HB4. It is a novel wheat variety developed to withstand drought conditions.

It was achieved through the incorporation of a gene sourced from a sunflower. This wheat variety is pioneered by the Argentine company Bioceres.

In a recent development, Nutrien, a prominent fertilizer company, revealed its intentions to distribute a new genetically modified soybean created by the startup ZeaKal Inc.

This genetically modified soybean includes a foreign gene that enhances photosynthesis. It enables the crop to capture more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

What are issues related to newly developed GM crops like smart corn?

This innovative adaptation allows policymakers, investors, and voters to evade the core issue of climate change. While new approaches to adapt to the climate crisis are appreciated, they should tackle the problem at its source.

These innovations cannot completely solve all climate-related challenges faced by farmers.

Bayer’s smart corn may not be sufficient to overcome problems caused by derechos, which can bring heavy rains leading to machinery sinking in the fields.

Additionally, excessive rainfall can saturate plant roots. It will cause them to rot and perish, regardless of the corn’s height.

Moreover, there is the issue of rising temperatures. Future agriculture will require plants engineered not only for wind resistance but also for resilience to drought, heat, and floods.

Way forward-

These plants must be capable of enduring changing seasons, temperature fluctuations, and invasive pests. The crops of tomorrow won’t rely on just one foreign gene. But, they will need a multitude of genetic modifications.

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