Sunday, November 11, 2012

Genetically Modified Crops (GM Crops) and current Issue

Created for human or animal consumption using latest molecular biology techniques.

Specific change introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.

Advantages of GM Crops: 
  1.  Pest Resistance: Reduces the use of pesticides 
  2.  Herbicide Tolerance: Reduces the amount of herbicide required 
  3.  Disease Resistance: against viruses, fungi, bacteria 
  4. Cold tolerance: by use of anti freeze gene 
  5.  Drought or Salinity tolerance 
  6. Nutrition: single crop can be genetically engineered to provide multiple additional vitamins. In many third world countries, population is heavily dependent on single crop for example Asian nations depend heavily on rice. 
  7. Phytoremediation: GM crops to clean up the heavy metal pollution. Another similar example is Use of bacteria to eat up oil spills over sea surface
Criticism against GM Crops:  
    1. Environmental risks: 
    •  Unintended harm to other organism. GM crops can cause unintended effect on other organism that live on normal crop.For example Caterpillars can die on feeding GM crops.
    •  Pests becoming more resistant . Pests could develop resistance to altered crop then controlling them would be very difficult. It will be a similar case as Multi-drug resistant TB in human beings.
    •  Gene transfer to non-target species
     2. Human risks:
    • Allergenicity : Individual may be allergic to a particular GM crop.
    •  Unknown effects on human health [still many lab trials going on so there is issue sending GM crops back to lab trials.Read here the opinion gm-crops-should-go-back-to-the-lab]
    3. Economic concerns: 
    • Patent issue 
    • Costly process 
    •  Competition with traditional agro-economy
Current issue in India about GM Crop 
Many political parties, farmers complaining introduction such GM cotton, Brinjal(has been stopped) as the cause for increasing farmer suicides in Karnataka, Maharashtra region.
following reasons are quoted for the same :
  • High input cost of seeds, 
  • genetic erosion of local varieties, 
  • farmer’s dependence on private seed cos are said to be the reasons.

Recently India made it compulsory “Labeling of the GM food” from Jan'2013
      1.  Consumers Right to Information is ensured
       1.  Unnecessary warning may create panic in consumer which may bring down the GM crop market. Retailers will suffer.
       2.  Clear of the food products that may cause harm to individual. For example in case of allergy
  2.   Requirement of extra infrastructure for segregation of GE and non-GE products.
       3.  Religion or ethical sentiments can be protected
  3.    Need not label as non-GE products are available with certified organic marks.