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Day 18 – Q.2 Are you in favor of India approving the use of genetically modified food on a wide scale? Why or why not? Substantiate your views.

  • IASbaba
  • December 15, 2022
  • 0
Agriculture, GS 3, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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Are you in favor of India approving the use of genetically modified food on a wide scale? Why or why not? Substantiate your views.

क्या आप भारत द्वारा आनुवंशिक रूप से संशोधित खाद्य पदार्थों के व्यापक पैमाने पर उपयोग को मंजूरी देने के पक्ष में हैं? क्यों या क्यों नहीं? अपने मतों की पुष्टि कीजिए।


Approach –

In this question candidates need to write their opinion on usage of genetically  modified food on wide scale .should we use it or not and further substantiate their views.

Introduction –

In an unprecedented move, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which is a nodal authority to approve genetically modified (GM) crops in India, has cleared the way for commercial cultivation of GM mustard.

Body –

Approval of GEAC for GM mustard is considered to be a watershed moment for Indian agriculture, because a GM food crop has been approved for commercial release for the first time, after the approval non-food Bt cotton in 2002.

  • With this approval, the gene modification of more than 200 varieties of rice, wheat, maize, brinjal, castor and cotton, among other crops, will get a fillip.
  • GM crops are needed and whether such crops benefit the farmers who are facing an income crisis from crop cultivation for more than two decades now.
  • The anti-GM activists has been opposing the cultivation of GM crops over the years citing three important reasons:
  • (a) that it is the country’s biotechnology policy which is responsible for the ongoing agrarian crisis; (b) that this technology is bound to deprive the livelihood of the poor agricultural labourer s who are mostly women and children; and (c) there is a possibility that this technology can damage human health and the environment.
  • But the fact is The use of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers promoted through the Green Revolution technology has been accepted by all. But, when it comes to GM technology that aims to enhance the agricultural productivity with less cost and water, there is opposition.
  • Can we ensure food security and higher income for farmers without promoting new technology in agriculture? Farmers in vast majority have accepted GM technology.
  • The GEAC’s approval for GM mustard is indeed an encouraging signal at a time when the value of import of edible oil has skyrocketed from ₹29,900 crore in 2010-11 to ₹68,200 crore in 2020-21. Mustard is one of the most important oilseed crops cultivated in India. Its area has increased from 2.88 million hectares (mha) in 1960-61 to 6.69 mha in 2020-21.
  • States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Assam are the major growers of the crop; they together account for 95 per cent of India’s total area under mustard. But the data available from the price policy reports published by the CACP show that the productivity and profitability of crop have not increased significantly between 2010-11 and 2019-20.
  • While the average productivity computed for eight major States was hovering around 13-14 quintal/ha, the profitability of the crop computed (at 2004-05 prices) in relation to cost C2 declined from ₹7,715/ha to ₹4,148/ha during this period
  • The increased cost of cultivation and stagnant productivity are not allowing farmers to harvest the expected profit from its cultivation. When GM mustard promises to increase productivity with less cost of cultivation, what is wrong in promoting it

Defaming evidence

  • The anti-GM group often argues that the root cause for the agrarian crisis is due to the advent of biotechnology in agriculture. If this is so, Indian farmers should have rejected Bt cotton. Instead, the farmers brought the entire cotton area under Bt cotton within 10 years after its introduction.
  • Rising labour costs, increased cost of cultivation and stagnant productivity of crops are some of the serious problems farmers are facing in recent years. We need technology that can save labour costs, reduce water consumption and increase the productivity of crops. GM technology reportedly provides these benefits to farmers.
  • The evidence clearly shows how Bt cotton has entirely changed cotton crop cultivation in India. Since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002, India’s cotton area, production and yield increased tremendously.
  • While the production increased from 8.62 million bales (one bale = 170 kg) to 35.38 million bales, the productivity of cotton increased from 191 kg/ha to 462 kg/ha during this period. Not only this, the increased coverage of Bt cotton reportedly saved about 40 per cent of the total chemical insecticides used for cotton.
  • But the anti-GM lobby continues to claim that Bt cotton has caused crop failures and farm suicides in India. Going by the evidence of Bt cotton, there is no doubt that GM mustard will also change its production scenario by benefiting the small, marginal and resource-poor farmers who depend on this crop for their livelihood. If the price of GM seeds is unreasonable, let us question it sturdily so that the government can make appropriate interventions to control it.
  • Given the trends in different countries, GM technology is going to dominate Indian agriculture in the near future. Presently, over 90 per cent of corn, cotton and soybean are cultivated using GM seed in the US. These crops can come to India by import, even if we don’t adopt them.

Conclusion –

India needs GM technology for its agriculture to improve the income of farmers and also to protect food security. However, the concerns related to the cost of seed, health of humans and cattle and environmental safety must be addressed without any compromise.

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