Is there anything wrong with genetically modified crops ?


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As per United Nation’s projection the global population expected to become between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by 2050. While food production has increased accordingly, some 800 million people, primarily in the developing world, still do not have access to sufficient food. Forty thousand people die every day from malnutrition, over half being children under the age of 5. In addition to lack of food, deficiencies in micronutrients, such as vitamins and iron, leading to illness and death are widespread. To meet this challenge over the next 50 years, we must double-to-triple the production of food on, essentially, the same area of land in the face of decreasing water supplies and with respect to the environment. This will be made more difficult by the consequences of global warming, such as increased climatic variability, changing patterns of rainfall and new pests and diseases. At the same time there must be a cessation of wilderness erosion to protect biodiversity and maintain ecosystems. Since the 1970s, the world has also seen a revolution in our understanding of how organisms function at the molecular, biochemical and physiological level. An integral part of this revolution has been the development of technologies that allow the transfer of genes from one species to another using biotechnological tools and which has become an important field in the global market. Genetically modified (GM) crops involves the deliberate modification of plants and animals' genetic material using innovative recombinant DNA technology.It is believed that the application of biotechnology to agriculture—together with plant breeding and improved agricultural practice—may provide solutions to some of the challenges outlined above without jeopardizing the environment, cliamte, biodiversity and human well being . Feeding the increasing world population in a sustainable and nutritious manner is definite and commited role and at the same time assuming responsibility for fully evaluating any technology for future generations is another important task.As with many new technologies, people are keen to embrace the benefits but reluctant to accept potential risks. The manner of introduction of GM crops onto the market has led to widespread loss of public confidence, which has been exploited by non-representative groups and activists for their own political ends. Some hypothesised threats of GM crops to the environment are elevated as being more important than the security of mankind. And the future that the critics offer is bleak: hard-won knowledge is rejected in favour of ideology. They require an absolute safety guarantee for GM crops, but such a warranty cannot be given everything cannot be known about anything. There are mixed views, confusions and confidence about GM crops and their probable effect on soil-water-plant animal continuum system. Thus, a standard of absolute certainty will effectively stop the attainment of the benefits of this or any other technology.

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  • Is there anything wrong with genetically modified crops ?

    1. 1. Prof Marc Van Montagu, founder of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO), Belgium, winner of the 2013 World Food Prize resentations.aspx? ID=qkIpW2G2X2uSQVuszsxYEQ== Randal Keynes, great-great-grandson Who pushed me for this day?
    2. 2. Is there anything wrong withIs there anything wrong with genetically modified cropsgenetically modified crops Amitava Rakshit
    3. 3. from Teosinte Maize By artificial selection that began ~10,000 years ago.
    4. 4. The March of Genetic Technology 1860 Mendel: making crosses, introducing genes 1920 Discovery of hybrid vigor 1950 Inducing mutations 1960 Tissue culture and embryo rescue 1980 Plant transformation and GMOs 2000 Genomics
    5. 5. The scientific basis of all crop improvement is the identification of the genes that encode certain phenotypic characteristics. Those genes can now be transferred more easily (via marker assisted breeding - no GM) or directly (through genetic engineering - GM)
    6. 6. • Can change plant so that it has new or different characteristics –Produce needed protein –Insect resistance –Herbicide resistance –Drought or other stress resistance Why Change a Plant’s DNA?
    7. 7. Genetically Modified Crops: Why and What to Know About • One most epoch-making development of science and technology, biological technology to be precise, that is going to shape the history of civilization • Use-applications of the products of GM technology concern every man, not alone the knowledgeable few or the promoters • Passionate debates about the foreseen prospects and unforeseen problems of the technology is raging the country, if not the whole world • Being at the interface of science and society, it is our duty to be aware and make people aware of the technology and its implications • We need to know the concept behind the technology, and where the confusion and confidence come from about its use
    8. 8. Creation of a GM plant relies on a natural gene transfer mechanism
    9. 9. Genetically Modified Crops : Concept • History of agricultural civilization is the history of progressive domestication of plants via genome modification through natural crossing of “species having recent common ancestor”, by and large, homologous recombination via inter- & intra-species hybridization • Rediscovery of Mendel’s tenets in early 20th century lead to intensive plant selection for desirable traits following planned intra- and interspecies crossing between parents linked by “recent common ancestor” • Most food crops, including rice, wheat, oats, maize potatoes, brassicas and tomatoes are products of crossing, initially natural, then deliberate and planned hybridization • Modern day S. tuberosum is just one example of a crop carrying manipulated genome – R genes for resistance against Late Blight disease introduced from non-edible wild Solanum spp. ‘Recent’ is too short a time frame in terms of ‘our common ancestor’; GMOs have crossed the evolutionary time frame of ‘Recent common ancestry’
    10. 10. Genetically Modified Crops : Historical Landmarks 1940 20101975 1944 1953 1957 1966 1970 - 73 1977 1981 1983-85 1994 1996 2006: GM crop cultivation crosses 100m ha world wide Avery, McLeod, McCarty: DNA as hereditary carrier – DNA Transformation of bacteria Kornberg: DNA polymerase enzyme discovered Weiss & Richradson : DNA ligase enzyme discovered Cohen et al. : Recombinant plasmid DNA synthesis & gene cloning Berg : Recombinant DNA molecule synthesized; Hamilton Smith : Restriction endonuclease discovered; Gilbert / Sanger DNA sequencing perfected; Nester et al.: A. tumifasciens genetically transforms host cells Insulin production in GM E.coli cells Hall : GM sunflower with soybean gene produced; First GM crop field tested in UK Slow ripening GM tomato approved for food use in USA Commercial cultivation of GM maize & soybean Watson & Crick: DNA structure elucidated
    11. 11. 0 30 60 90 120 150 180 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2010 Total Industrial Developing 160 million hectares 395 million acres Source: C.James, ISAAA. 2006 Global area of GM crops: 1996 – 2010 Industrial vs. developing countries (m ha)
    12. 12. Global area of crops with Bt technology is nearing half of total area in the world planted to biotech crops (James, 2009). Meanwhile, the graph below shows that Bt technology is steadily adopted globally, along with other traits from biotechnology. Global area of GM crops: 1996 – 2009
    13. 13. Area under GM crops: 1996 – 2009 By country (in million hectares)
    14. 14. 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Soybean Cotton Canola Maize 91 35 27 148 64% 38% 18% 17% Conventional GM Global adoption – overall and as percentage, for Principal GM crops in 2009 (m ha) >10 million farmers growing GM crops, of whom 90% are in developing countries, majority with small holdings, viz Bt cotton in China and India. Million Hectares
    15. 15. What are people’s concerns • Is this food safe? • Should food be labeled? • Are there adverse environmental effects? • Patenting of seeds • Discrimination against the poor • Who benefits? All of these concerns apply to food and agriculture in general
    16. 16. These concerns are generally true for all innovations.  Promote the general welfare  Maintain people’s rights (individuals, groups, corporations)  Ensure justice: burdens and benefits must be fairly shared Governments create policies based on the following principles:
    17. 17. Agriculture is the main cause of environmental change and degradation
    18. 18. Agriculture has narrowed the gene pool and caused a loss of biodiversity Wild Progenitors and Relatives Land Races Elite Lines
    19. 19. Environmental Hazards from Pesticides • Substantial health impacts on workers • Pollution of natural ecosystems/ waterways • Loss of insect biodiversity in agroecosystems • Creation of secondary pests • Creation of insect races resistant to pesticides
    20. 20. What about India?
    21. 21. Genetics is always better than chemicals: GM Cotton with a Bacillus thuringiensis Cry gene is resistant to Cotton Bollworm. Cry encodes an insecticidal protein
    22. 22. Reduced Pesticide Use with Insect-Protected Cotton Insect Control Ledger for Bt Cotton Manufacturing Distribution Application Financial Benefit Stewardship Applies ? million fewer pounds of insecticide in 2.5 fewer applications per acre Disposes of ? fewer insecticide containers Saves ? hour farm work days Conserves ? million gallons of fuel and ? million gallons of water Accrues ? Million INR in economic benefits from lower production costs and increased cotton yield Reduces pesticide exposure risk Preserves beneficial insect populations Creates wildlife benefits Gives cotton producers more time for family and community activities Gives cotton producers peace of mind Transports and stores ? fewer gallons of insecticide Conserves ? gallons of fuel oil Produces fiber equivalent to that found in all consumer products derived from cotton Consumer Benefit Saves ? million pounds of raw material Conserves ? million gallons of fuel oil Eliminates ? million pounds of industrial waste Net Bt Cotton
    23. 23. Some GM crops have the potential to mitigate the environmental impact of agriculture: less pesticide, less dust, more biodegradable herbicides ““Roundup” tolerant soybeansRoundup” tolerant soybeans can be Planted with no-tillcan be Planted with no-till procedures, which eliminateprocedures, which eliminate plowing (dust),Save water andplowing (dust),Save water and use a biodegradableuse a biodegradable herbicideherbicide
    24. 24. Genetically Modified Crops: Dissection of the Polemics What is the Debate About ? Heterologous recombination – virtues or vicissitude ? • So long as genetic modification was based on gross genetic homology between parents, there was no objection; objection is now primarily against heterologous recombination, and to some extent against the mechanics of recombination • What the proponents see as virtues, opponents project as vices • Difference in value judgment – proponents justify by ‘need perception’ whereas opponents justify by ‘threat perception’ • Both proponents and opponents belong to well-informed minority (consumers), not the non-informed majority (producers) Conflict of consumer – producer interest
    25. 25. Seed Companies US Consumer Technology Inventor US Farmer Total Benefits 200M 400M 600M 800M 1000M 100% 76% 7% 4% 3% ESTIMATED BENEFITS IN MILLION DOLLARS DISTRIBUTION OF BENEFITS FROM HT (RR) SOYBEAN SOURCE: Falck-Zepada,J.B., G. Traxler and R.G. Nelson. 1999, Rent Creation and Distribution From Biotechnology Innovations: The Case of Bt Cotton and Herbicide Tolerant Soybeans in 1997.Agribusiness. $1,061M $796M $74M $42M $32M GM crops – Benefit Sharing among the Stakeholders : US experience with 1st generation GM crops Who gains from the GM technology?
    26. 26. Genetically Modified Crops Two sides of the Debate Confusion & Confidence “ Genetic engineering is imprecise and unpredictable; By inserting foreign genes into the DNA of a host, new life forms are created that have never occurred in nature. Long term impacts of such manipulations are unknown” – Green Alternatives to Globalization – A Manifesto, M. Woodwin & C. Lucas, Pluto Press, 2006. “ The serious issues are getting lost in all the extreme statements (about GM crops) …. No one is trying to redesign nature or humanity. It is absurd to say that we have left everything in its natural state until now, we haven’t. What biotechnology is doing is targeting nature in a more precise and specific way than before” Patrick Bateson, VP, Royal Society, UK, uk, June 23, 2002
    27. 27. Genetically Modified Crops The ‘Need’ Perception – Proponents’ Viewpoints • There is fundamental ‘genetic homology’ in terms of chemical basis of heredity among all organisms • The technology is the same as done by man since time immemorial, only the modification has become more precise and predictable, less cost and time intensive • Strategically placed to increase global food production by reducing crop losses and increasing yields while conserving precious farmland • Shall reduce the need for chemical pesticides, tillage, irrigation, and free agriculture from over dependence on fossil fuel energy
    28. 28. Genetically Modified Crops Where the Benefits Come From • Increased and more durable Biological Tolerance to specific pests , diseases and viruses to reduce the need for chemical pesticides - In Africa, sweet potato yield doubled in 5 years by adoption of feathery mottle virus resistant GM varieties, resistance of papaya to Ring spot virus, Bt cotton against bollworm • Adaptability to abiotic stresses – drought, salinity, water logging, extreme temperature etc. - Cold tolerance of GM Canola with higher linoleic acid content • Tolerance to environmentally safe herbicides – ‘Round up Ready’ maize and soybean • Desirable functional characteristics – Delayed ripening, longer shelf life, reduced allergenicity / toxicity etc • Desirable nutritional characteristics – altered protein and fat content, increased essential amino acids, vitamins and mineral content – Increased provitamin A content of ‘Golden Rice’, increased starch content of ‘chips’ making potato • Convenient medium for drug & vaccine delivery through edibles
    29. 29. Yield Effects of Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries M. Qaim & D. Zilberman, Science 299: 900-2, 2003. <> “On-farm field trials carried out with Bt-cotton in different states of India show that the technology substantially reduces pest damage and increases yield. The yield gains are much higher than what has been reported for other countries where GM crops were used to replace and enhance chemical pest control. In many developing countries small-scale farmers especially suffer big pest-related yield losses because of technical and economic constraints. Pest-resistant genetically modified crops can contribute to increased yields and agricultural growth in those situations, as the case of Bt- cotton in India demonstrates”.
    30. 30. Bt Cotton Yield Advantage: Indian Experience * Mean values are different from those of non-Bt counterparts and popular checks at a 5% significance level Mean values for Bt (n = 157) Non – Bt counterpart (n = 157) Popular check (n = 157) No. of sprays against bollworm 0.62 * (1.28) 3.68 (1.98) 3.63 (1.98) No. of sprays against sucking pests 3.57 (1.70) 3.51 (1.66) 3.45 (1.62) Amount of insecticide, kg/ha which is in 1.74 * (1.86) 5.56 (3.15) 5.43 (3.07) Toxicity class I Toxicity class II Toxicity class III 0.64 * (1.10) 1.98 (1.78) 1.94 (1.78) 1.07 * (1.27) 3.55 (2.66) 3.46 (2.06) 0.03 (0.08) 0.03 (0.08) 0.03 (0.08) Amount of active ingredients, kg /ha 0.48 * (0.55) 1.55 (0.96) 1.52 (0.95) Yield, kg /ha 1501 * (857) 833 (572) 802 (571) M. Qaim & D. Zilberman, Science 299: 900-2, 2003.
    31. 31. Disease control in a GM crop Papaya transformed with viral CP gene Field reaction of GM & non-GM papaya crop compared at various stages 6 MAP 12 MAP 24 MAP Field View
    32. 32. Genetically Modified Crops The ‘Threat’ Perception – Opponents’ Viewpoints • Environmental Concern: Risks to the environment and economics of food production – Development of resistant organisms, weeds & pests, and loss of biodiversity • Concern about health and hygiene: Potential risks to human health, mainly through impacts on food safety - allergenicity, acute toxicity of GM products, evolution of resistant pathogenic microflora etc • Economic and social Concern: Direct costs of investment and production, particularly for less developed countries • Political concern: Designed to suit globalization, corporate exploitation and capitalism •
    33. 33. Genetically Modified Crops Key Issues Behind Concern Environmental concern • Effect of GM crops on non-target organisms • Impacts of GM crops on soil ecosystems • Gene flow from GM crops to wild relatives • Invasiveness of GM crops into natural habitats • Impacts of GM crops on pest and weed management
    34. 34. Sanvido O, Stark M, Romeis, J., and Bigler F. (2006) Ecological impacts of genetically modified crops : experiences from ten years of experimental field research and commercial cultivation, Agroscope Reckenholz Tanikon Research Station ART, Zurich, Switzerland. Genetically Modified Crops Summary of Conclusions from 10 years data Switzerland is one EU country that is yet to adopt GM crops in large scale
    35. 35. Genetically Modified Crops vs. Environment Concern 1: Effect on non-target organisms There are concerns that insect-resistant GM crops expressing Bt-Cry proteins could directly harm organisms other than the pest(s) targeted by the toxin and thus affect biological diversity in a region. No adverse effects on non-target natural enemies, pollinators and other micro- and meso- fauna resulting from direct toxicity of the expressed Bt toxins have so far been observed in laboratory studies and in the field. There is evidence that the Bt crops grown today are more target- specific and have fewer side effects on non-target organisms than most current insecticides used.
    36. 36. Genetically Modified Crops vs. Environment Concern 2: Impacts of GM crops on soil ecosystems Concerns are raised that Bt crops can have adverse effects on soil organisms. Bt toxins enter the soil via root exudates, crop debris. Degradation and inactivation of the toxin vary, depending on agro-ecological factors. Initial degradation of the toxin is rapid, a low percentage (< 2%) may remain in the soil after one growing season. However, No accumulation of Bt toxins has been observed after several years of cultivation of Bt crops. Population sizes and community structure of soil organisms are subject to both seasonal variation and to variations caused by the agricultural system (soil type, plant age, crops, cultivars, and crop rotation). Neither laboratory nor field studies have shown lethal or sub-lethal effects of Bt toxins on non-target soil organisms such as earthworms, collembola, mites, woodlice, or nematodes. Some differences in total numbers and community structure have been described for microorganisms, but whether the differences between Bt and non-Bt crops were exceeding the natural variation is doubtful . The only study considering natural variation suggests that observed effects lie within this variation and that the differences between conventional cultivars outweigh the observed influences of Bt crops.
    37. 37. Genetically Modified Crops vs. Environment Concern 3:Gene flow from GM crops to wild relatives There is general scientific agreement that gene flow from GM crops to sexually compatible wild relatives can occur. GM crops are capable of spontaneously mating with wild relatives, however, at rates in the order of what would be expected for non-transgenic crops. Questions remain whether these transgenes would cause ecologically relevant changes in recipient plant populations. Although there is a low probability that increased weediness due to gene flow could occur, it is unlikely that GMHT weeds would create greater agricultural problems than conventional weeds. Fitness of a weed in natural ecosystems is not necessarily due to one or two genes factoring for specific toxin proteins, enzymes etc. In natural habitats, no long-term introgression of transgenes into wild plant populations leading to the extinction of any wild plant taxa (biodiversity loss) has been observed to date. Transgenes conferring herbicide tolerance are unlikely to confer a benefit in natural habitats because these genes are selectively neutral in natural environments, whereas insect resistance genes could increase fitness if pests contribute to the control of natural plant populations.
    38. 38. Hmm… I wonder if there could be gene flow? Gene flow occurs when crops cross with wild relatives growingGene flow occurs when crops cross with wild relatives growing in relative close proximity to the relative close proximity to the fields. Gene flow requires sexual compatibilityGene flow requires sexual compatibility Gene persistence requires an evolutionary advantage for the new traitGene persistence requires an evolutionary advantage for the new trait
    39. 39. Genetically Modified Crops vs. Environment Concern 4:Invasiveness of GM crops into natural habitats Concern that GM crops, when released could invade natural habitats to be a potential risk to nature. It seems that modern crop varieties generally stay domesticated and ‘volunteer’ crops as weeds are rare in natural ecosystems. There is no evidence at present that the cultivation of GM crops has resulted in widespread dispersal of volunteer crops carrying transgenic traits and becoming weeds. Furthermore, there is currently no evidence that HT crops have become feral and invaded natural habitats. Whether a crop will become a weed in an arable ecosystem depends on the attributes of the crop, the ecosystem and the introduced gene, and is not a generic character of all GM crops.
    40. 40. Genetically Modified Crops vs. Environment Concern 5: Impacts of GM crops on pest and weed management – evolution of resistant population Impacts of GM crops on pest and weed management practices and their potential ecological consequences are being debated. Numerous weed and pest species evolved resistance to a number of herbicides and pesticides long before the introduction of GM crops. Such resistance is an evolutionary process to acquire survival fitness in organisms and is not unique for ‘genetic modification’. Large-scale GM crops cultivation confirms that development of herbicide or pesticide resistances in target weeds or pests is not primarily a question of ‘genetic modification’, but of the crop and management practices. Despite extensive cultivation of GMHT oilseed rape in Canada and Bt maize in USA / China, no weed or pest species has so far been observed being tolerant to the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate or the Bt transgene. The problem, if it surfaces can be tackled by conventional approaches.
    41. 41. Genetically Modified Crops KEY ISSUES BEHIND CONCERN Food Safety Concerns • Transgene (DNA) itself may be toxic, may be transferred to the consumer • Transgene product (protein) may be toxic / allergic to consumers / handlers • Transgene may increase hazard from toxins or pharmacologically active substances present in the host • The antibiotic marker / viral gene promoter etc.may pass on to human / animal gut microbes to create hazard • Nutritional value of the transgenic crop may change
    42. 42. Social – Economic Concern • GMCs are cost intensive, especially for the resource poor farmers in countries like ours • Entry of and virtual control of world seed / input market by exploitative private capital • Reversal of subsistence polyculture farming with attendant ecological benefits of the East-Southeast to input intensive monoculture farming of the West- Northwest • Shall not solve hunger / poverty as access, not availability of food is the real issue Genetically Modified Crops KEY ISSUES BEHIND CONCERN
    43. 43. GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS Concerns How Real? Three publications in Nature 1999-2001 that spoke of environmental danger of GM crops: • JE Losey et al. “ Transgenic pollen harms Monarch larvae” Nature 399: 214, 1999 • D Saxena et al. “ Insecticidal toxin in root exudates from Bt corn” Nature 399: 402, 1999 • D Quist & I Chapella “ Transgenic DNA introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico” Nature 414: 541-43, 2001 These and such other publications are translated as: “ The End of the World as we Know it”! (Greenpeace Brief on GM Crops)
    44. 44. Genetically Modified Crops Concerns How Real ? • Monarch butterfly, the ‘Conservation Flagship species’ of the USA was seen to be low on survival & consumption rates when laboratory fed with milkweed leaves (natural weed host) dusted with Bt-maize pollen (Losey et al. Nature 399: 214, 1999) •Several independent field and laboratory investigations later showed that the ruling Bt- hybrid maize pollen was neither toxic nor the possibly toxic Cry genes expressed in pollens. Further studies showed that Bt-expressing crops posed little risk to non- target insects, pollinators, natural enemies (Ref. Angharad MR et al. 2002. The case of the Monarch butterfly: a verdict returned. Trends in Genetics 18:249-251) •Nature in its long history of service to science and society had to express regrets for publishing the paper without appropriately verifying the details - design, methodology, and findings of the laboratory experiment
    45. 45. Genetically Modified Crops : How Confusions Spread Greenpeace (China) review document prepared by Prof. Xue Dayuan of Nanjing Institute of Environmental Science claimed “ Bt-cotton has destabilized China’s insect ecology and perpetuated farmers’ reliance on harmful pesticides”. When challenged by CAAS with contrary data the author agreed “I think I’m a little biased, I didn’t use research evidence that showed advantages of Bt-cotton because I was focusing on adverse effects” (Biotechnology Update 4, June 2002, Biotechnology Information Center, Mumbai) Incidentally, China grows the largest area of GM cotton in the world
    46. 46. Genetically Modified Crops - Concerns How Real? Cases of human allergy to traces of Bt proteins in Starlink maize (expressing Cry9C gene) was announced by Friends of the Earth (USA) leading to withdrawal of all Bt maize food / feed products by the US FDA 17 persons who reported allergy upon ingestion of Bt-Cry9C maize found ELISA negative for IgE antibodies against Cry9C proteins by CDC, USA, casting doubt about FDA spot tests for allergenicity. A double blind placebo trial commissioned by EPA-SAP found the patient who reported repeated allergy as ‘wholly allergy negative to Starlink maize protein’ (containing Cry9C protein) by intra-dermal test while positive to standard histamine check. (Sutton SA et al. 2003. A negative double blind placebo controlled challenge to GM corn. J. Allergy Clinical Immunology 112: 1011-12)
    47. 47. Genetically Modified Crops - Concerns How Real? Ewen S & Pusztai A (1999) Effects of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthaus nivalis lectin on rat small rat intestine. The Lancet 354: 1353-54 The Royal Society commissioned independent investigation that later debunked the findings that led to scare and public outcry (Halford NG, Plant Biotechnology, P. 24, John Wiley, 2006) European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported (2007) that “there is no evidence the GM animal feed can have harmful effects on meat & egg. The recombinant DNA did not survive passage through the intact GI tract of healthy human subjects fed GM soya. To date large number experimental studies have shown that DNA fragments or proteins derived from GM plants have not been detected in tissues, fluids, eggs or other other edible products of farm animals” http://www.
    48. 48. Genetically Modified Crops Concerns How Real ? Quist & Chapella’s data ( PCR detection of DNA signature diagnostic of genetic engineering) to claim horizontal gene transfer from transgenic maize to traditional maize landraces in Mexico (D Quist, IH Chapella, Nature 414: 541:2001) were later found as interpretations based on “ PCR artefacts” and commented by independent scientists / reviewers as “worst science” (Metz & Fütterer, Nature, Apr’02). As a sequel, Nature had to somewhat retract by saying “evidence available is not sufficient to justify publication”of the paper. The fate of the other paper (Saksena et al., 1999, Nature, 399: 402, 1999) on Bt toxin root exudates of Bt maize harming soil biodiversity was similar.
    49. 49. What are the main food issues? The # 1 safety issue is bacteria The # 1 health issues are fat, sugar and salt What about their nutritional value and safety?
    50. 50. Compositional equivalence of Bt and non-Bt crops – Food quality of GM and non-GM counterpart (Proximate analysis data) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Percent Non Bt Bt11 Fibre Fat Protein Carbohydrate Results generated on GM maize event Bt 11 and its conventional counterpart: No difference for other nutritional factors (protein quality, minerals & vitamin content) has been found
    51. 51. Are GM foods safe and nutritious? 1. All GM foods have been extensively tested and they are as safe as other foods in the market place. 2. GM crops can be made into convenience and “junk” food just like organic crops and other crops! 3. Nutrition depends on the food, not the method of crop breeding
    52. 52. Every year 250,000 children become blind because of vitamin A deficiency
    53. 53. Some GM crops will improve the nutritional quality of foods. Such foods are now in the pipeline.
    54. 54. A GM soybean line, developed as a collaboration between the USDA and DuPont, is hypoallergenic in humans. The approach is to down regulate the expression of the gene encoding the major allergenic protein (antisense)
    55. 55. How to Label? Conventionally grown GMO Pesticides, twice a week Pesticide free
    56. 56. So, what’s the bottom line? 1. GM foods are as safe and there is promise for more nutritious food. 2. For some crops, environmental impacts are similar or less than conventional agriculture. 3. GM is an important tool for the plant breeder 4. GM technology can solve problems that can’t be solved in other ways at present. 5. The benefits will be spread between biotech companies, farmers and consumers.
    57. 57. Seed Companies US Consumer Technology Inventor US Farmer Total Benefits 200M 400M 600M 800M 1000M 100% 76% 7% 4% 3% ESTIMATED BENEFITS IN MILLION DOLLARS DISTRIBUTION OF BENEFITS FROM HT (RR) SOYBEAN SOURCE: Falck-Zepada,J.B., G. Traxler and R.G. Nelson. 1999, Rent Creation and Distribution From Biotechnology Innovations: The Case of Bt Cotton and Herbicide Tolerant Soybeans in 1997.Agribusiness. $1,061M $796M $74M $42M $32M GM crops – Benefit Sharing among the Stakeholders : US experience with 1st generation GM crops Who gains from the GM technology?
    58. 58. How confusions spread : Campaign against GMC & GR technology in crop production Rural poverty ratio in Punjab stood at 7.21 % against all India average of 35.25% in 2001-2002 Food Security in Exchange of Cancer? Photo: Rice transplantation in Punjab Anandabazar Patrika, Calcutta, 30-06-2010
    59. 59. Genetically Modified Crops: How Confusion Spreads Campaign against GM Rice in West Bengal Anandabazar Patrika, Calcutta, 31-12-2010 Starvation Death Threat For Farmers With GM Crops
    60. 60. Genetically Modified Crops The Frame for Dialogue & Debate “When discussing the risks of GE crops, one has to recognize that the real choice for farmers and consumers is not between a GE technology that may have risks and a completely safe alternative. The real choice is between GE crops and current conventional pest and weed management practices, all possibly having positive and negative outcomes. To ensure that a policy is truly precautionary, one should therefore compare the risk of adopting a technology against the risk of not adopting it. We thus believe that both benefits and risks of GE crop systems should be compared with those of current agricultural practices”.
    61. 61. Genetically Modified Crops Confidence “There is no free lunch in Nature’s Reception Party” All technologies are preset with risks that was not there without the technology Biotechnology, for that matter Green Technology, may not be an exception also Benefit: cost ratio (social cost not excluded) to determine utility Risk is a product of hazard X exposure can be minimized by reducing either potential hazard or potential exposure or both While concerns about GMCs arise from potential hazards, confidence arises from reducing potential exposure and / or hazard
    62. 62. Consumer Convenience Dictates Acceptance of a Technology ------ as for example “Risks associated with mobile phone use are arguably higher than they are for the current commercialized GMCs, yet because of the convenience that mobile phones provide to the user, they are much more acceptable to users” TOI, Calcutta, 03-02-11
    63. 63. Am I only preaching ?
    64. 64. Beura and Rakshit (2011)
    65. 65. Beura and Rakshit (2012)
    66. 66. Beura and Rakshit (2011)
    67. 67. Beura and Rakshit (2011)
    68. 68. Abstract: Use of the insecticidal cry proteins from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in cotton has raised a number of concerns, including the ecological impact on soil ecosystems.Greenhouse study was conducted during the 2011 wet season (March to August) at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences of Banaras Hindu University. It was carried out on three different soil orders that includedentisol, inceptisol and alfisol. Bt cotton (var.NCS-138) and its non-transgenic isoline (var.NCS-138) were grown until maturity. A no crop pot was maintained for all the three soil orders. The highest rate of decomposition was found in alluvial soil compared to black and red soils in 50 days after incorporation (DAI). Thereafter the rate of decomposition was slowed downby100 DAI and the constant rate of decomposition was found in 150 DAI. The rate of decomposition was higher in non Bt than Bt crop residues. Keywords: Bt cotton, soil types, decomposition DECOMPOSITION OF BT COTTON AND NON BT COTTON RESIDUES UNDER VARIED SOIL TYPES Authors: Sujata Kumari, Amitava Rakshit, Kasturikasen Beura Article type: Regular Article of Biotechnology Articels in next issue The Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Foof Sciences
    69. 69. Genetically Modified Crops DO WE NEED THEM ?
    70. 70. Final submission It does become necessary to take decisions in the best interest of the nation, guided by genuine scientific inputs, rather than attempting a consensus. Agriculture is not just about technology, since it embodies a culture and there are political and sociological over tones. It needs to be realized that GM is only an innovative approach to provide a technological solution, but it should not be made a scape goat if there is failure else where.
    71. 71. EPILOGUE “I am pleased to hear that the Government of India had finally approved the cultivation of Bt cotton. Congratulations! Now that the door has been opened for the use of transgenic biotechnology on one crop, I hope it will soon be approved for other traits on other crops, wherever there is proven advantage within acceptable levels of risk. As an enthusiastic friend of India, I have been dismayed to see it lagging behind in the approval of transgenic crops, while China forges ahead. I hope India’s recent approval of Bt cotton is indicative of a change toward more progressive leadership in agricultural policy. I am convinced that wise use of biotechnology will be crucial to India’s food security” Nobel Peace Laureate Norman Borlaug – letter to the Indian scientific community <>2008
    73. 73. AcknowledgementAcknowledgement Ministry of Science & Technology, DST,Government of India BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY MSc Students: Kasturi, Sujata and Prachi