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

What is Golden Rice?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Golden Rice, Food Fortification, GM Crops

Why in the News?

  • The Court of Appeals in the Philippines revoked biosafety permits for GM Golden Rice and BT eggplant, citing safety violations and ordering a halt until issues are resolved.

Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant in the Philippines 

What is Golden Rice? 

  • Golden Rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa) developed through genetic engineering to produce beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of the rice.
  • This modification aims to address vitamin A deficiency, particularly in areas where it’s prevalent.
  • The Philippines approved its commercial production in 2021.
  • The Philippines became the first country to officially issue a biosafety permit for commercially propagating golden rice in July 2021.

Bt Eggplant: Developed by the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), Bt eggplant is engineered to resist pests, aiming to enhance farmer productivity and reduce environmental impact.


Development of Golden Rice:

  • Research for golden rice began as a Rockefeller Foundation initiative in 1982.
  • Peter Bramley discovered in the 1990s that a single phytoene desaturase gene (bacterial CrtI) could be used to produce lycopene from phytoene in genetically modified tomato.
  • Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg published the scientific details of golden rice in 2000 after an eight-year project.


  • Golden rice incorporates Psy and CrtI genes from daffodils and a soil bacterium into the rice genome to enhance beta-carotene production in the endosperm.

Field Trials and Approvals:

  • The first field trials of golden rice cultivars were conducted by Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in 2004.
  • Additional trials were conducted in the Philippines, Taiwan, and Bangladesh.
  • In 2018, Canada and the United States approved golden rice as safe for consumption.
  • In 2019, the Philippines approved golden rice for use as human food, animal feed, or for processing.

In the context of India 

  • Currently, there is no cultivation or commercialization of Golden Rice in India. Growing and selling GM brinjal remains banned in India.
  • Recently, the Supreme Court has also intervened on the issue of stubble burning and paddy cultivation in India esp, Punjab and Haryana states.
    • India has approved commercial cultivation of only one GM crop, Bt cotton. No GM food crop has ever been approved for commercial cultivation in the country.
    • We can have some lessons from the Philippines.

Controversy over its Use

  • Legal challenges emerged in the Philippines in 2023 and 2024, leading to a halt in commercial propagation.
  • Critics have raised concerns about its safety, environmental impact, and efficacy compared to other interventions like supplements and dietary diversification.
  • Greenpeace opposes the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture and opposes the cultivation of golden rice.
  • Vandana Shiva, an Indian anti-GMO activist, has argued against golden rice, citing potential issues with loss of biodiversity and availability of diverse and nutritionally adequate food.

Golden Rice 2:

  • In 2005, researchers at Syngenta developed Golden Rice 2, which contains the phytoene synthase (psy) gene from maise combined with the crtl gene from the original golden rice.
  • Golden Rice 2 produces significantly higher levels of carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, compared to the original golden rice.



[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 hybridisation.
  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

[2021] What are the research and developmental achievements in applied biotechnology? How will these achievements help to uplift the poorer sections of the society?

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