Biosafety Current Affairs

GM crops only after biosafety, socio-economic evaluation: Parliamentary Committee

The Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended that no genetically modified (GM) crop should be introduced unless the biosafety and socio-economic desirability is evaluated in a transparent process. It also called for placing an accountable regime in this regard.

The recommendation was made by department-related parliamentary standing committee on science and technology and environment and forest in its 301st report on “GM crop and its impact on environment”.

Report Highlights

The Committee has also recommended that the Environment Ministry (MoEFCC) should examine the impact of GM crops on the environment thoroughly, in consultation with all stakeholders, so that all its probable effects are very clear.

It also noted that the GM crop regulator GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee) gave its approval for commercialisation of GM mustard inspite of matter pending for decision in Supreme Court. It held that GM mustard being herbicide-tolerant GM organism (GMO), there are evidences on adverse impacts of such GMOs elsewhere in world.

Background

The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), Delhi University, had submitted an application to the GEAC for the environmental release of GM mustard hybrid DMH-11 and the use of parental events (EH2 mod bs 2.99 and varuna bn 3.6) for the development of a new generation of hybrids. The MoEFCC had received over 700 comments from various stakeholders, including farmers and researchers, on the Assessment of Food and Environmental Safety (AFES) report on GM Mustard.

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Pests eat away India’s 35% of total crop yield: ICAR scientist

According to Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) scientist, pests eat away about 30-35% of the annual crop yield in India.

Such large-scale crop-loss is having an adverse effect on the agricultural biosafety which is paramount to food security of the country. 

Key Facts
  • Among such pests, nematodes (microscopic worms many of which are parasites) have emerged as a major threat to crops in the country. They have caused loss of 60 million tonnes of crops annually.
  • They are causing loss of crops to the tune of almost 60 million tonnes or 10-12 % of crop production every year. Indian farmers are still not fully aware about these potential crop-destroyers.
  • In the past particular kind of nematode had affected plants such as potatoes and tomatoes in India. The Potato Cyst Nematode was first discovered in Nilgiris and now has spread to various parts of the country.
What are Nematodes?
  • Nematodes are microscopic worms many of which are parasites consisting of roundworms, threadworms and eelworms.
  • They have successfully adapted to nearly every ecosystem from marine (salt or brackish water) to fresh water, to soils, and from the tropics to the harsh polar regions, as well as the highest to the lowest of elevations.
  • Depending on the species, a nematode may be beneficial or detrimental to plant health. The predatory nematodes breed by soaking a specific recipe of leaves and other detritus in water.
  • Crop rotation of agricultural plants with nematode-resistant species or varieties is one of the simplest way of managing parasitic infestations of nematodes.

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