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

RobiNOweed: ICAR’s Herbicide-Tolerant Basmati Variety


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: RobiNOweed Variety of Rice

Why in the News? 

  • Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) launched India’s inaugural non-GM herbicide-tolerant Basmati rice varieties for commercial farming, ensuring improved weed control, cost-effectiveness, and addressing water scarcity and methane emissions in cultivation.

About the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

  • ICAR is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • ICAR was formerly known as the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research.
  • It was established in 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 on the basis of the report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture.

Functions of ICAR:

  • Its primary mandate is to coordinate agricultural education and research in India and provide leadership in agriculture and allied sectors.
  • It is the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country.

Structure and Organization:

  • ICAR operates under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India.
  • It consists of a network of research institutes, national bureaus, project directorates, and agricultural universities across the country.
  • The council is governed by a Governing Body and an Executive Committee, which oversee its functioning and activities.

Recognition and Awards:

  • ICAR confers prestigious awards, such as: the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award, the Borlaug Award, and the Hari Om Ashram Trust Award, to recognize excellence in agricultural research and education.

About RobiNOweed

  • Dubbed as ‘RobiNOweed,’ these varieties are developed by ICAR-IARI and named as:
  1. Pusa Basmati 1979 and
  2. Pusa Basmati 1985
  • They are tailor-made for farmers employing the direct seeded rice (DSR) method, where weed management is crucial.

Benefits Offered

  • Effective Weed Management: These new varieties offer an effective solution to weed issues and promote the success of the DSR method, potentially saving up to 33% of the total water requirement.
  • Water Conservation: DSR significantly reduces water usage compared to traditional flooding methods, addressing concerns of water depletion, especially in northwest India.
  • Market Impact: With IARI already holding a dominant 95% share in Basmati exports, these new varieties are expected to further boost production and export.

Critical Assessment of Herbicide-Tolerant Varieties

  • Weed Management Alternatives: Some scientists argue against the necessity of Ht rice, advocating for eco-friendly weed management methods based on climatic factors.
  • Potential Risks: Concerns arise regarding the limited efficacy of the herbicide, its impact on genetic diversity, and the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds.
  • Lessons from Past: Lessons from the Bt Cotton experience highlight the risks associated with overreliance on specific agricultural technologies.

What is the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) technique?

  • Transplantation Method: In the conventional transplantation method, seeds are sown in nurseries, grown into seedlings, and then transplanted into puddled fields.
  • Direct Seeding: DSR involves directly drilling pre-germinated seeds into the field using tractor-powered machinery.
  • Simplicity and Efficiency: DSR eliminates the need for nursery preparation and transplantation, simplifying the cultivation process.
  • Resource Management: DSR offers benefits such as water savings and reduced labor requirements compared to conventional methods.
  • Higher Requirements: However, DSR requires higher seed quantities and levelled land, posing challenges for adoption.



[2018] With reference to the Genetically Modified mustard (GM mustard) developed in India, consider the following statements:

  1. GM mustard has the genes of a soil bacterium that give the plant the property of pest-resistance to a wide variety of pests.
  2. GM mustard has the genes that allow the plant cross-pollination and hybridization.
  3. 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

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