Issue of Genetically Modified Crops in India

Why is it in news?

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee recently recommended the commercial approval of the GM Mustard crop.
  • If approved by the Environment Ministry, GM Mustard will be the first genetically modified food crop to be cultivated in India.

Given the results of extensive bio-safety studies over the last decade and the edible oil shortage the country is facing, this should be an easy decision by the Environment Ministry.

  • However, it might not be as easy, as the activists who are ideologically opposed to GM crop technologies have unleashed protest movements and campaigns.
  • The approval of GM Mustard by the Environment Ministry largely remains a political decision.
  • Advantages of GM Crops:
    • Resistant to pest and diseases.
    • They have improved quality and taste, as well as increased nutrients.
    • Sustainability: GMOs provide a stable and efficient way to sustain enough crops to feed the ever growing population of people in the world.
    • They help reduce the environmental impact of human activities by a reduction in the use of insecticides and pesticides.
    • Some of the GM crops contain the quality of resistance to herbicides.
    • Some specific GM crops can bear the harsh climatic conditions like drought, salinity and cold, which the original crops are unable to do.
    • Economic Benefits: GM crops can increase yield and thus increase farm income.

    Concerns regarding GM crops:

    • Impact on Health: Effects of GM crops on human health can be unpredictable. They might have a tendency to provoke any allergic reaction.

    Environmental Concern:

    • They can reduce species diversity. For example, Insect-resistant plants might harm insects that are not their intended target and thus result in the destruction of that particular species.
    • GM technology could also allow the transfer of herbicide tolerant genes from GM crop to weeds, creating “superweeds”, which will be immune to common control methods.
    • Viral genes added to crops to confer resistance might be transferred to other viral pathogens, which can lead to new and more virulent virus strains.

    Economic Concerns:

    • Introduction of a GM crop to market is a lengthy and costly process.
    • Patenting of GM plants is a great concern. Patenting these seeds increases the price of these seeds and small farmers especially in developing countries cannot afford to buy GM seeds every year. This result to be financially disastrous for poor farmers in developing countries like India, further increasing the inequality in the distribution of income.

    Conclusion

    • GM crops are the way forward for sustainable development.
    • It has a great potential to address global hunger and malnutrition issues.
    • It can help protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield and reducing reliance upon chemical pesticides and insecticides.
    • However, the unintended impact on human health and environment is a matter of concern.
    • The Economic viability of farmers in developing countries in India is a major discourse.
    • In India, a strong regulatory framework is needed for commercialization of GM crops. Otherwise, years of researches on GM crops will go in vain.
    • Therefore, there is an urgent needed for an independent biotechnology regulatory authority, a single organization that will replace the multiple committees – at least six – that are part of the current regulatory structure.

What are GM crops?

What are GM crops? GM Crops are plants used inagriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering GM is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop… Continue reading What are GM crops?

Posted in ENVIRONMENT|Comments Off on What are GM crops?
Print Friendly and PDF