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Agriculture

Chinese Government takes strict steps to regulate GM Crops

With a view to exercise stern regulation on GM Crops, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided to regulate the sales and growth of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country. As per the Ministry of Agriculture, any firm or individual found transgressing regulations to grow or sell GM crops will be punished strictly.

The decision comes close on the heels of a media publicizing the sale of GM rice at a supermarket in Central China, which is prohibited in the country. The objective behind this measure is to prevent illegal distribution of GM crops in the country.

China has authorized imports of GM soybeans and corns and certified the growth of various GM crops including cotton, tomatoes, papayas and peppers. However, it has not allowed commercial production or sale of GM crops.

Though, the ministry has given nod to experimental planting of two strains of insect-resistant GM rice in 2009, but the safety certificates for this experiment expire this year and commercial production is yet take off. Grant of safety certificates on GM crops doesn’t mean autonomy of commercial production.

China faces the challenge of providing adequate food to its billions of people. Its population is continuously on the rise and its available land is gradually reducing leading to flat yield in the past decade. Such long-term food security trends are worrying for the country. China’s decision to open the doors of commercial production of GM crops can extenuate the worries. But, concerns over after-effects of GM crops persist.

The major reason behind such protective concern is the uncertainty on GM crops’ long-term risks on environment and humans.

Status of GM crops in India
Indian government has approved commercialization of only one GM crop i.e. Bt Cotton. However, there are various GM crops that are in pipeline and are under development and field trials. The crops include brinjal, corn, tomato, rice and groundnut. The success of field trials of GM crops will pave the way for commercialization of GM crops in the country.

However, Indian government is still in quandary over the issue of commercialization of GM crops.  

Major concerns related to this are:

  • GM is a cost-intensive technology, which is not suitable for small farmers in India.
  • There is a dearth of sufficient infrastructure and tools required for testing of GM crops in India
  • India has a weak regulatory framework of GM crops.

Ghana’s proposal of land to Punjab farmers accepted by Punjab Government

The Punjab Government has agreed to the Ghana Government’s proposal offering land to Punjab farmers. As per the proposal, the government of Ghana would provide fertile farmland on a long-term lease to Punjab farmers for farm activities. Ghana has made this proposal to promote agriculture as a tool of progress in Ghana and if possible then by Punjab’s expertise in farming.

Punjab Government has assured Ghana that a high-level delegation of officers as well as an expert from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, would be sent to Ghana to study the suitability of the entire project.

Ghana also offered Punjab to export finished goods to Ghana. It has invited Punjabi entrepreneurs to visit Ghana to start manufacturing facilities in the country and take advantage of Ghana’s natural resources like various minerals, timber, oil, cocoa, palm oil fish and cotton.

Rs 150 crore allocated for Rashtriya Gokul Mission for 2014-15

The “Rashtriya Gokul Mission” which aims to conserve and develop indigenous breeds in a focused and scientific manner will be allocated Rs 150.00 crores for 2014-15.

The Rashtriya Gokul Mission is a focused project under National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development, with an outlay of Rs 500 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan.

The objectives of Rashtriya Gokul Mission:

  • Development and conservation of indigenous breeds
  • Undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock
  • Enhance milk production and productivity
  • Upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi
  • Distribute disease free high genetic merit bulls for natural service.

The Mission will be implemented through the “State Implementing Agency” (SIA viz Livestock Development Boards).

World Food Prize 2014 to India-born scientist Sanjaya Rajaram

Sanjaya Rajaram, an India-born plant scientist, has been chosen for the World Food Prize 2014 for scientific research that led to a stupendous increase in world wheat production.

However, farm activists in the country criticised the prize as mere a public relations stunt by big agri-food companies who fund it.

Sanjaya Rajaram, a citizen of Mexico, took over Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug as head of the wheat breeding program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, where he worked for 33 years. The World Food Prize acknowledges his contribution to the breeding technologies which have made significant impact in providing more nutritious food around the world and assuaging world hunger.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center 

Commonly called by its Spanish acronym CIMMYT (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo) is a non-profit research and training institution dedicated to both the development of improved varieties of wheat and maize, and introducing better agricultural practices to farmers, thus bettering their livelihoods.

CIMMYT is one of the 15 non-profit, research and training institutions affiliated with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

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