India’s Tryst with Genetic Engineering - (E)

India embraced genetically modified crops with the introduction of GM Cotton or Bt Cotton in 2002 and since then India’s cotton production boomed and pesticide consumption for use on controlling pink bollworm the devastating pest of cotton dipped dramatically. After that initial success Indian scientists made an attempt to introduce Bt Brinjal but that was shot down by the then Minister of Environment & Forests, putting a moratorium on its release. Today there are attempts being made to introduce GM Mustard developed at the University of Delhi in the labs of Prof Deepak Pental. India is very short of edible oils and huge quantities get imported, will the introduction of GM Mustard help in India reducing the edible oil import bill. Today GM comes in many flavours, good old genetic transformation, gene editing and CRISPR CAS. There is a certain divide and debate on the introduction of GM in food crops, but with a burgeoning population can India afford to be averse to GM in food crops. Today during the Covid-19 pandemic many of the vaccines being used are totally GM products, and well accepted by the population. Embracing GM is it the only hope of feeding India? Since, the Indian land mass will not increase, low input, high output agriculture is probably the only sustainable solution.

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