Should India Adopt GM Crops?

Even after the 70 years of independence, India is struggling with the issue of poverty and hunger, though it has experienced impressive economic growth in near period of time. Poverty has seen downfall trades but it is still present and should come to zero ensuring that everyone in the country should not sleep with empty stomach. Long back, India has seen so many famines in pre independence era but lesser in post independence era. Due to a democratic system of governance and contribution by some of the big minds like M S Swaminathan, C T Subramaniam the concept of so called “green revolution” was introduced in India. Introduction of new varieties, new fertilizers and pesticides has increased the production but it has recently lost its efficiency in further increasing the rate of production of food grains. Some way it has lost its pace. For quickening it up now we have searched another means of exploiting biological form in order to get maximum advantage from it, while maintaining an optimum ecological balance which is genetic engineering.

Genetically modified crop is the result of genetic engineering where desirable genes from some other non-related species and related are inserted into DNA of another organism. It has got wider applicability in field of agriculture as such, genetically modified crop are able to give higher level of outputs with lesser use of resources and moreover they are resistant to disease, drought and pest. India has accepted green revolution with open hand, that gave new efficient varieties, good range of fertilizer and other chemicals that in turn has increased the production, but what would be its after effect, it was known to none. Now time has come that we are seeing its deadly effect in the form of barren land, depletion of water level, polluting of drinking water, changing of ecosystem and habitats of our indigenous plant, along with insecurity to feed each and every mouth. So some of the people have advocated that this is the high time that we should go for GM crops. India has a mixed response regarding the acceptance and use of GM crops. In 2002, Bt cotton was introduced in India by combined efforts of Monsanto and Mahyco. Farmers started harvesting good yield of cotton with less use of pesticide. It was a boon for them and in 2015, India grew the largest GM cotton crop at 11.6 mha becoming the largest producer of cotton and GM cotton. But now it has become one of the main reason for farmer’s suicide due to its decreasing efficiency in producing Bt toxin and non-effectiveness towards jassids, aphids, whitefly etc. America one of the leading countries in using the GM crop and products made out of them. According to a study, there is a strong correlation between growth of GM crops, herbicides they are promoting and diseases that has been prevailed among elderly like acute kidney injury, diabetes, autism, Alzheimer’s’ and cancer in past 20 years in America. Similarly the story of introduction of Bt Brinjal and GM Mustard in India has seen resistance from different stakeholders of the society, which has made Indian government to rethink regarding the introduction of the same. At present GM mustard has got green signal from GEAC but earlier it had itself rejected a similar herbicide tolerant GM mustard proposed by Bayer in 2002. Just because the concept of GM mustard has been put forth by some Indian that doesn’t mean it is not harmful. It is a new marketing trick, that of promotion of a swadeshi GM to breakdown the resistance to GM crops in India’s vast market, ignoring the safety concern. An herbicide tolerant crop promotes constant exposure to a single herbicide which will eventually make weeds more resistant, thus creating super weeds. Due to constant exposure to single herbicide, there would be maximum chance of biomagnifications. According to WHO, glyphosate and other such herbicides are declared as a probable human carcinogen. Different claims made by the scientist involved in GM mustard program regarding its increased yield potential has been challenged now. The top 5 producers of mustard - UK, France, Poland, Germany and Czech Republic are not growing GM crops that means such crops are not an essentiality for increased production. There are so many methods for increasing the production of crops like SRI (System of Rice Intensification), SMI (System of Mustard Intensification) and others whose trials have been done and shown higher yields and better income. The GM crops are going to reduce our diversity, indigenous natural resources as there are chances of gene flow that may convert non Bt crop to Bt by contaminating them creating a change in flora diversity, killing all the beneficial organism. The development and propagation of GM crops and their presence in public domain is controlled by few powerful corporations like Monsanto and bayer; Dow and DuPont and syngenta and chemchina as they control 65% of global pesticide sale and 61% of commercial seed sales. No matter who will produce or sell the seed, the ultimate profit will go to them forcing the Indian farmers to live in the misery. The GM seeds do not give a chance to farmers to harvest and create or preserve some seeds (as it used to be in olden days) for the next planting season rather it will lock the farmer and seed and fertiliser entrepreneur in unconscionable contract.

If GM crops are now introduced, who will lose? Every Indian who is consuming the food, will also consume the higher level of herbicide, the pattern of employment will change causing more unemployment, reduction in biological diversity, bee population and losing of seed diversity and an international advantage of being one of the 12 mega biodiversecountry that we have treasured for so long. So India should not go for adoption of GM crops as they are not going to be of any worth for us rather it will make us to pay a huge price by losing the diversity and our tradition of farming.

About Author / Additional Info:
M.Sc. 2nd year student at Indian Agriculture research institute , Pusa campus New Delhi India