Gene-altered food crops: Enhancing mustard yields

Source: The post is based on the article “Enhancing mustard yields” published in Business Standard on 2nd November 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country

Relevance: About the benefits of GM Mustard and gene-altered food crops.

News: Recently, the government cleared the GM Mustard Hybrid DMH 11 for commercial cultivation. It is a bid to pave the way for the introduction of gene-altered food crops, which can revolutionise Indian agriculture.

Must read: Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee approves commercial cultivation of genetically modified mustard yet again
About the approval of GM Mustard

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) approved GM mustard for general cultivation in 2017. But the government then blocked this move under pressure from the anti-genetic modification lobby.

The same lobby once again tried to block the commercialisation of DMH-11 mustard

Agricultural science bodies, such as the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, have now prepared to carry out field tests, demonstration trials, and seed multiplication of DMH-11 in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the GEAC.

What are the other gene-altered food crops allowed for field-testing by GEAC?

GEAC has granted permission for the field-testing of four more genetically engineered crops, which include two food crops — potato and banana — and two commercial crops — rubber and cotton.

No new Bt-cotton hybrid has been approved since the release of Bollgard-II in 2006. The new strains of Bt-cotton are required to replace the existing ones that have outlived their useful life.

Read more: GM Crops in India: Issues and challenges – Explained, pointwise
How GM Mustard will aid mustard yields?

India is a net edible oil-deficit country. India at present imports as high as 55-60% of its edible oil. GM mustard will have a yield advantage of nearly 28% over the available mustard varieties. So, it can help substantially reduce the gap in the domestic demand and supply of edible oil.

How do global countries take advantage of Indian gene-altered food crops?

a) Australia has released GM Mustard developed in India for general cultivation to take advantage of its high-yield potential, b) GM brinjal developed in India was adopted for cultivation by Bangladesh with good results and without any environmental or health hazards.

So, India should take advantage of indigenous GM crops to increase both productivity and profitability and double farmers’ income.

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