Mass sowing of GM seeds to be undertaken during kharif season
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture; Biotechnology
- In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of Genetically modified (GM) seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton.
- Cultivating GM seeds is not approved in India.
Important value additions
- Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.
- Genetic engineering aims to go beyond conventional breeding by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects.
- The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
- Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
- In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
- In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.
Legal position of GM crops in India
- In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
- In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton.
- Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1989.
- The Kharif season varies by crop and region, starting at the earliest in May and ending at the latest in January.
- In India, the season is popularly considered to start in June and to end in October.
- Kharif crops are usually sown with the beginning of the first rains during the advent of the south-west monsoon season, and they are harvested at the end of monsoon season (October-November).