Why India cannot afford to ignore the GM crop revolution

Source– The post is based on the article “Why India cannot afford to ignore the GM crop revolution” published in The Indian Express on 14th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Agriculture and Science & Technology

Relevance: Recombinant technology

News- The article explains the issues related to GM crops.

What are arguments in support of GM crops?

GM crops have spread around the world since 1996. By 2019, roughly 190 million hectares were under GM crops. There has been no harmful impact on human or animal health or the environment per. More than 70 countries have accepted the use of GM crops.

Cotton production increased remarkably from a mere 13.6 million bales in 2002-03 to 39.8 million bales in 2013-14. Cotton productivity increased from 302 kg per hectare in 2002-03 to 566 kg per hectare in 2013-14.

Bt cotton has made India the second-largest producer and the second-largest exporter of cotton in the world today.

GMOs have been in our food systems for years. India heavily depends on imported edible oils. A large portion of this comes from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the US, which is all from GM technology. Cotton seed is also fed to cattle which gives the milk its fat content. Even poultry feed, such as soya and corn, is being imported.

By not allowing GM crops, we are denying the basic rights of farmers who want to increase their incomes. The best way to do so is by raising productivity in a sustainable manner. The field trials of GM mustard at different locations showed 25-28 per cent higher yield and better disease resistance compared to indigenous varieties.

What are concerns associated with GM crops?

There has been enhanced sucking pest damage in Bt cotton. It has led to an increase in secondary pests such as mired bugs and emergence of pest resistance.

It has environmental and health implications in terms of toxicity and allergenicity that can cause hepatotoxic reactions in the human body.

There is increased exposure of farmers to a greater risk of monopoly in the seed business.

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