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Mass sowing of GM seeds to be undertaken during kharif season

  • IASbaba
  • June 16, 2020
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Mass sowing of GM seeds to be undertaken during kharif season

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture; Biotechnology

In News:

  • 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

Kharif season 

  • 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). 

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