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GM food and sustainable food production

Genetically modified (GM) food is viewed as a controversial as well as a science-based solution for a sustainable global food system.


The controversial and science-based solution for a sustainable global food system is viewed as genetically modified (GM) food.

Challenges the world is facing – Conflict between food security and environmental protection:

  • Agriculture is responsible for a quarter of the carbon emissions and the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity losses.
  • However, there is the need to increase food production (by 50%), as the world’s population keeps growing [will reach 10 billion in 2057 (as per UN estimates)].

Read also:- EU Mission: Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities

Approaches to achieving food security and mitigating climate crisis:

  • Dietary changes to make consumption more sustainable.
  • Better technologies to create more environmentally friendly methods of agriculture. Gene technologies are a crucial part of the strategy for a sustainable food system.

What is GM food?

  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms that have altered DNA to change their properties.
  • GM foods/crops are often referred to as foods produced from or using GMOs.
  • GMOs were first introduced in the US in 1994, to prolong the shelf life of tomato plants.
  • Since then, agricultural approval has been given to GM soybeans, wheat, and rice.
  • Currently, GM crop production uses ~10% of the land as compared to non-GM crops. 

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  • Can improve yield, delay ripening to prolong their shelf life, builds resistance to disease/pests, frost, or drought, or adds nutrients.
  • Food production can be modified to reduce carbon emissions and boost sustainability.

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GM controversy:

  • Uncertainty (over-regulation) and concerns about safety (long-term impact on human-animal health and biodiversity).
  • The monopoly of big corporations (like Monsanto) → expensive GM seeds.

GM crops in India:

  • Indian farmers started cultivating Bt cotton – a pest-resistant, GM version of cotton, in 2002-03.
    • By 2014, around 96% of the area under cotton cultivation in India was Bt cotton, making India the 4th-largest cultivator of GM crops by acreage and the 2nd largest producer of cotton.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) cleared the environmental release of mustard hybrid Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) for its seed production and testing
  • Indian scientists have also developed strains of Sub-1 rice, which are much more resistant to flooding.
  • Golden rice is a GM strain that has been modified to contain vitamin A, in order to combat the shortage of dietary vitamin A in parts of Asia and Africa.

Read also:- World Earth Day :22 April

Way ahead:

  • The focus of GM products must be on the social and public enterprise.
  • The industry must look at more local solutions that help smallholder farmers in developing countries.
  • Easy availability of open-source seeds and GM technologies.
  • Creating a licensing landscape that empowers local farmers to adapt to the demands of sustainable agriculture, to meet rising populations and climate change.

Read also:- SC modifies judgement on Eco-Sensitive Zones

GM food and sustainable food production, GM food and sustainable food production

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