27 Oct Genetic Modified Crops
Genetic Modified Crops
Context: The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee has given a green signal for the commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard (Genetic Modified Crops) also known as DMH-11 (Dhara Mustard).
- They are crops whose DNA is modified artificially by inserting genetic material from other living organisms to amplify its structural existence, adaptability, growth yield, tolerance to pesticides and herbicides or ultimately improve nutritional content.
- Currently, there is no edible (eatable/consumable) GM crop that is commercially cultivated in India. Only one GM crop is approved by regulatory authorities, Bt Cotton (Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis). However, there are many crops which are being approved for pilot field trials but not allowed for commercial cultivation.
Status of Genetic Modified Crops in India:
- In 2002, GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee) allowed for commercial cultivation of bt cotton. This was the first attempt by government to introduce GM crops in the Indian market.
- Genetic Engineered food crops in India are regulated by a statutory body (GEAC) which functions under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. It functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- GEAC is responsible for granting permits to conduct experiments and large scale open field trials and grant approval for commercial release of biotech crops.
Pic: Genetic Engineering
About DMH-11 (Dhara-Mustard-Hybrid)
- Mustard-a self-pollinating plant is quite difficult to hybridize as it contains both male and female reproductive organs (Pistil and stamen).
- By using the Barnese method, Mustard will be better suited to hybridization.
- The DMH-11 contains 3 genes which are Barnese, Bastar and Barnese which are obtained from soil bacterium.
Need of DMH-11
India spends more than 60,000 core in importing edible oils from Malaysia and Indonesia which results in excessive flow of dollars. DMH-11 will increase the yield of Mustard which will reduce the need to import edible oils.
Concerns associated with DMH-11:
Detrimental to health: Due to the presence of Bar gene, which makes DMH-11, a herbicide-tolerant plant, which could prove fatal for the health of individuals.
Affects Biodiversity: The spray of herbicides does not affect the well-being of plants but affects the surrounding environment and biodiversity.
Water-Guzzler: DMH-11 requires a huge amount of water and fertilizers which is not environmentally sustainable.
Potential Negative effects: Due to lack of scientific studies, the negative health effects could not be discounted.
Given the increased pace of climate change, frequency of natural disasters, declining groundwater table, GM crops are sustainable and potent weapon to address hunger and malnutrition issues.
UPSC Previous Year Question : (2018)
Q1- With reference to the Genetically Modified mustard (GM mustard) developed in India, consider the following statements :
1. GM mustard has the genes of a soil bacterium that give the plant the property of pest-resistance to a wide variety of pests.
2. GM mustard has the genes that allow the plant cross-pollination and hybridization.
3. GM mustard has been developed jointly by the IARI and Punjab Agricultural University.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?
A . 1 and 3 only
B. 2 only
C. 2 and 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3
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