1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
2. Agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Illegal cultivation of Bt brinjal
What to study?
For prelims and mains: bt crops- need, concerns, challenges in preventing their cultivation and measures needed.
Context: Illegal Bt brinjal cultivation in Haryana have been confirmed recently.
India banned Bt brinjal in 2010.
Need of the hour- the GEAC should:
- Visit the farms and conduct tests.
- Identify the source of seeds.
- Destroy GM crops.
- Compensate losses incurred by farmers.
- Penalise distributing companies.
- Form a mechanism to avoid such incidents in the future.
What is a GM crop?
A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.
- For example, a GM crop can contain a gene(s) that has been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring it through pollination.
- The resulting plant is said to be “genetically modified” although in reality all crops have been “genetically modified” from their original wild state by domestication, selection, and controlled breeding over long periods of time.
Do we need GM crops?
Yes and why?
- Higher crop yields.
- Reduced farm costs.
- Increased farm profit.
- Improvement in health and the environment.
No and why?
Lack of clarity: The scientific community seems uncertain about the GM technology. While there are many in this community who feel that the benefits outweigh the risks, others point to the irreversibility of this technology and uncontrollability of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) once introduced in the ecosystem.
Threat to domestic crops: Globally, there is a clear view that GM crops must not be introduced in centres of origin and diversity. India also has mega biodiversity hotspots like the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats which are rich in biodiversity yet ecologically very sensitive.
There is also a potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops and the risk of these toxins affecting nontarget organisms. There is also the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.
Sources: Down to Earth.