Genetically Modified Crop

Genetically modified (GM) crops, also known as transgenic crops, are plants that have had their genetic makeup altered in a way that doesn’t occur naturally. This is done through techniques like gene insertion, removal, or modification using genetic engineering tools.

What are they?

  • Crops with their DNA deliberately altered to introduce new traits or enhance existing ones.
  • Achieved through techniques like inserting genes from other organisms or modifying the plant’s own genetic code.

Goals of GM technology in agriculture:

Increased yield and productivity: 

  • GM crops can be engineered to resist pests and diseases, tolerate harsh environments, and produce higher yields.
  • This can lead to increased food security and economic benefits for farmers.

Improved nutritional value: 

  • Crops can be fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, addressing malnutrition and dietary deficiencies.
  • Examples include Golden Rice enriched with Vitamin A.

Enhanced sustainability: 

  • GM crops can be engineered to require less water and fertilizer, reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainable agriculture.

Herbicide tolerance:

  • Some GM crops are resistant to specific herbicides, allowing farmers to control weeds more effectively while minimizing harm to the crop itself.

Examples of GM crops:

Bt cotton:

  • Contains a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that produces a protein toxic to certain insect pests, reducing pesticide use.

Herbicide-resistant soybeans and corn:

  • Engineered to withstand specific herbicides, simplifying weed control for farmers.

Golden Rice:

  • Contains genes from other plants that enable it to produce beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, addressing Vitamin A deficiency in regions where rice is a staple food.

Challenges and concerns:

Safety:

  • Potential risks to human health and the environment are a major concern, although extensive testing and regulations are in place.

Ethical considerations:

  • Modifying organisms raises ethical questions about interfering with nature and potential unintended consequences.

Socioeconomic impact:

  • Concerns exist about corporate control of seeds and potential negative impacts on small farmers.

Current Scenario in INDIA

Only one commercially cultivated GM crop:

  • Bt cotton, introduced in 2002, dominates the country’s cotton production, accounting for nearly 96% of cotton area.
  • Its pest resistance has demonstrably increased yields and farmer income.

Field trials for other crops:

  • Trials are underway for brinjal, tomato, maize, and chickpea using transgenic technology.
  • However, commercial release remains stalled due to regulatory hurdles and public concerns.

Mustard on the cusp of commercialization:

  • The GEAC approved GM mustard hybrid DMH-11 in October 2022, bringing it closer to full cultivation.
  • However, legal challenges still exist, delaying its potential widespread adoption.

Prelims Facts

Colombo Security Conclave’s

About

The CSC is a trilateral maritime security alliance comprising the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and India that was established in 2011.

  • At the fifth meeting of national security advisers, it welcomed Mauritius as a fourth member.
  • Seychelles and Bangladesh were invited to join the group and attended as observers.
  • Currently India is heading the conclave

Agni Path

The Agnipath Scheme is a revolutionary recruitment program launched by the Indian government in June 2022 to transform the way soldiers are recruited into the Indian Armed Forces. It aims to bring in a younger, fitter, and more tech-savvy workforce while reducing the pension burden on the military.

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