From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : GM crops in India
Mains level : Issues with GM crops
The European Union has recalled some packaged food items which were made up of Indian GMO.
GM crops in India
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under Environment Ministry oversees the approval of GM Crops in India.
- Bt cotton: It is the only GM crop that has been approved for commercial cultivation in 2002.
- Bt Brinjal: Resistant to brinjal shoot fly, it was approved by GEAC in 2009. However due to 10 years moratorium imposed on GM crops by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Supreme Court of India, its commercialization has stalled.
- GM Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11: DMH 11 developed by Delhi University is pending for commercial release as GEAC has advised to generate complete safety assessment.
However, unauthorized HtBt Cotton and Bt Brinjal are being grown commercially, with hundreds of growers blatantly defying the governmental ban.
What about GM Rice?
- GM rice is not grown commercially in India.
- However, multiple GM rice varieties have been approved for confined field trials.
- There seems a possibility of cross-contamination from such field trials directly or through seed leakages.
India’s rice exports
- India’s annual rice exports amount to 18 million tonnes worth ₹65,000 crore, and reach more than 75 countries.
What is the EU move?
- A European candy has recalled several batches of its product from the market due to the use of rice flour with genetically modified (GM) contamination that allegedly originated in India.
- The EU notification has identified the product as ‘Unauthorised genetically modified (p35S and tNos) rice flour from India’.
Impact of the EU move
- This has led to the loss of reputation of India and its agricultural market.
- With such a move by the EU, it is Indian farmers and exporters who have much to lose.
Threats posed by GM crops
- It is believed that consumption of genetically engineered foods can cause the development of diseases which are immune to antibiotics.
- Besides, as these foods are new inventions, not much is known about their long term effects on human beings.
- Genetically modified rice may potentially cause serious public health and environmental problems.
- Two major issues about GM rice are their tendencies to provoke allergic reactions and the uncertainty of gene transfers.
What can be done to reverse this?
- Ban on field trials of GM crops
- Slapping liability for illegal release of GMOs into the environment on developers
- Probe to identify the source of the GM rice contamination
Try answering this PYQ:
With reference to the Genetically Modified mustard (GM mustard) developed in India, consider the following statements:
- GM mustard has the genes of a soil bacterium that give the plant the property of pest-resistance to a wide variety of pests.
- GM mustard has the genes that allow the plant cross-pollination and hybridization.
- 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
Post your answers here.