Genetic engineering in agriculture in India
Genetic engineering in agriculture in India is regulated India by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). Genetic engineering has caused intellectual property problems in India, where farmers are often trapped.
It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF), established by the Environment Protection Act 1986. Genetic engineering is a modification of DNA material or genetic modification of an ‘s organism using various biotechnology methods. Or it is simply modification, manipulation and recombination of DNA.
In agriculture, the plant DNA is engineered to get desired results such as high yields, disease resistance, increased shelf life etc. GMO or Genetically modified food are part of most foods, especially our packed food. Many people are concerned about these kinds of foods but many do not understand what it is?
Genetically modified foods are made from plants where DNA is modified. These are modified to resist herbicides, pests, improve their quality etc. The rise of commercialisation of GM Crops provided economic benefits to farmers in many developing countries like India. But GM food safety is a growing concern with critics.
Genetically Modified Crops
Genetically Modified Crops or GM Crops are the Plants where their DNA has been modified using advanced genetic engineering methods. These plants’ genomes are engineered by physical methods, or by Agrobacterium for the delivery of sequences that are hosted in T-DNA vectors.
The most common Genetically modified crops in India are BT Cotton, Bt Brinjal, GM-mustard etc.
In 1996, insect-resistant Genetically modified cotton was developed by CSIRO(Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), using a gene owned by Monsanto.
Then ICAR has highly recognized three varieties of BT Cotton namely PAU Bt 1, F1861 and RS 2013 and it is cultivated in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan. There are almost 52 different varieties of BT cotton hybrids that were recognized for cultivation in India.
Vijay Atmaram Ingle, was a pioneer of BT cotton in India and he was commonly called as Father of BT cotton in India. He successfully conducted several trials from 1997 to 1998.
India Banned Bt Brinjal in 2010, but it is still in circulation. Then the Indian government in 2020 has approved field trials of indigenous Bt Brinjal varieties ‘Janak‘ and ‘BSS-793‘. Both these varieties are proprietary product of the government run Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) that contains ‘Bt Cry1Fa1‘ gene.
BT Brinjal were once grown majorly in West Benal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.
Presently GM cotton is only genetically modified crop commercially allowed in India. But GM Mustard could become India’s first GM food crop.
Transgenic Crops in India
Transgenic Crops is a genetically modified organism (GMO). Transgenic is a transfer of genes using recombinant DNA Technology. Usually a transgenic crop has one or more genes been inserted artificially from an unrelated plant or from different species.
Pros and Cons of genetic engineering in agriculture
The advantage of a Genetic Engineered crop has made it possible to produce foods and drugs at a low cost. As it reduced the need for the high usage of fertilizers, Pesticides. Also, its yields were skyrocketed. This made Food deficient countries Food self-sufficient and also made the countries food exporters.
And Genetically modified crops were made to provide more nutrients and resistive to various diseases and pest attacks. This ensured food security. Also, it gave scientists an opportunity to produce yields in areas such as deserts, where traditional agriculture is not possible.
Diabetic people avoided foods such as rice, because of their high sugar content. In GM Foods the nutrition level also is controlled.
On the bad side, It could produce allergic effects on certain people, New pathogens were adapted to these GM Crops and affected the yield. This forces the scientist to develop new pesticides and fertilizers to could create new health problems.