Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.

First-ever genetically modified rubber planted in Assam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : First-ever genetically modified rubber planted in Assam

Mains level : Hazards of using GMO crops

A Rubber Board research farm on the outskirts of Guwahati now sports the world’s first genetically modified (GM) rubber plant tailored for the climatic conditions in the Northeast.

GM rubber

  • The GM rubber has additional copies of the gene MnSOD, or manganese-containing superoxide dismutase, inserted in the plant.
  • The plant was developed at the Kerala-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII).
  • It is expected to tide over the severe cold conditions during winter — a major factor affecting the growth of young rubber plants in the region.

Why need GM rubber?

  • Natural rubber is a native of warm humid Amazon forests and is not naturally suited for the colder conditions in the Northeast, which is one of the largest producers of rubber in India.
  • Growth of young rubber plants remains suspended during the winter months, which are also characterized by progressive drying of the soil.
  • This is the reason for the long immaturity period of this crop in the region.

What does MnSOD gene offer?

  • The MnSOD gene has the ability to protect plants from the adverse effects of severe environmental stresses such as cold and drought.
  • Laboratory studies conducted at the RRII showed the GM rubber plants overexpressed the MnSOD gene as expected, offering protection to the cells.
  • The plant is thus expected to establish well and grow fast in the region.
  • There was no risk of genes flowing from the GM rubber into any other native species, a concern often raised by environmental groups against GM plants in general.
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