Recently genetically modified crops and seeds have been in the news. Should GM crops be allowed? Discuss with special reference to environment and biodiversity.
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Genetically modified crops are those crops whose genes are modified by genetic engineering to insert new traits like pesticide resistance, increased nutritional value, etc.
After the public furore over Bt Brinjal, GEAC’s approval for Bt Mustard has again brought the protests to limelight.
The resistance is ascribed to impacts these crops have on Environment and biodiversity –
1. Opponents say these crops are not enough researched upon and may have unknown effects like anti-biotic resistance development, allergies, etc.
2. Cross contamination of other crops may lead to rise of “superweeds”.
3. May wipe out species due to unknown mutational effects.
4. BT Cotton’s failure to fight pink bollworms defeats the idea of creation of the BT variety.
5. Also monopoly of few global giants has made seeds unaffordable for farmers.
6. Bt crops need a lot of water degrading the already scarce resource.
However they are considered ‘Environment friendly’ because –
1. They need less pesticides preventing contamination of soil and water.
2. They selectively target species not hurting the ecological food chains.
Essentially, the repercussions are dangerous for the environment hence should be avoided. This has also been acknowledged in various protocols like Cartagena, Nagoya Protocol, etc.
Hence, Governments should enhance conventional crops’ quality via research. Proper implementation of National Farmers Policy holds the way ahead.