GM Crops for long term Food and
Md. Mahtab Rashid
What are GM Crops?
GM crops are developed by a process of genetic
modification by which selected individual genes are
inserted from one organism into another (i.e. bacterial
gene into cotton) to enhance desirable characteristics
(‘traits’) or to suppress undesirable ones ( i.e. a tomato
with reversed DNA to slow down ripening).
Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are also called
as genetically engineered (GE), “transgenic” or
Reason to adopt GM Technology /
Present scenario of India & World
According to FAO, 29% of 872.9 million undernourished people are
49% of world’s underweight children
34% of world’s stunted children
> 46% of world’s undernourished children are from India
53 out of 1000 children in India die due to malnutrition.
1 in 3 malnourished children in the world is an Indian (which was
considered as “Nutritional Shame” by the then P.M. Dr. Manmohan
Annually 25 lakhs Indian die due to hunger.
1 out of 7 people in the world go to the bed hungry.
Everyday 2 lakh people are added to the world food demand.
Presently, 925 million people in the world are hungry.
According to the Food Security Bill, 67% of population of the country
can be a challenge if the country does not adopt the feasible stand on
India is 2nd largest producer of vegetables next to China and produce
129.08millon metric tons but still the per capita availability 120-130
grams as against 300 grams as per I.C.M.R. recommendation for an
adult per day.
Pulse production in India remained static at 13+2 million tons during
last 25 years, resulting in lesser quantity available to the people.
Average yield of paddy in Nile delta of Egypt, South Korea, Taiwan,
etc is 8-10 tons/ha but in India it is only about 3.0 tons/ha.
India is among the world’s top five nations in cultivating GM crops
according to the survey by International service for the Acquisition of
Agri-Boitech Applications, an industry lobby group. Indian farmers
cultivate genetically engineered Bt cotton in 11 million ha of land with
an adoption rate of 95%as of 2013. But we are still there- haven’t
moved an in farther scientifically. The technology is still trapped in the
web woven by politics and judiciary.
U.N. estimates that the world population will cross 9 billion in 2050
and their will be major challenge to provide them nutrition, safe and
affordable food while sustaining agricuture.
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
GM Crops and Food Security
Easing of world hunger or increased food
Development of crops that can be grown in
Development of drought resistant crops.
• currently inhospitable regions can now be
Development of salt-tolerant crops.
Development of crops that make more efficient
use of nitrogen and other nutrients.
E.g. “Roundup ready” crops, and BT corn.
GM Crops and Nutritional Security
Reduced use of pesticides and herbicides
Development of pest resistant crops.
Reduced herbicide use is better for the environment and reduces
costs for farmers.
Improved crop quality
Development of frost resistant crops.
Development of disease resistant crops.
Development of flood resistant crops.
Improved nutritional quality
Development of foods designed to meet specific nutritional goals.
GM "golden rice" is high in beta-carotene (vitamin A)
Reduces eye-related problems like blindness due to malnutrition
Plants like poplar trees clean up the heavy metal soil contamination
GM plants with higher tolerance for heavy metals like mercury.
Future prospects of GM Crops
Future benefits might include:
food without allergens; (i.e. anyone could eat
grains, fruit & vegetables with improved
nutrition (multi-vitamin potatoes=healthy fast
food french fries!)
longer shelf life and better taste (reduced
food waste due to spoilage)
rice enhanced with iron (prevent anemia)
foods used as vaccines (bye-bye needles)
Many more possibilities
Examples or Current GM Crops used
1. Bt Cotton
Bacillus thurengensis (Bt) genes that makes it resistant against
India’s 1st cultivated transgenic.
2. Golden Rice and Bt Rice
3. Bt Brinjal
4. Flavr Savr tomato in 1994 was introduced as the first GM
food. It is supposed to be“tastier, firmer and fresher” than
the average tomato.
5. Bt Corn
6. Round-up Ready Crops
So, what’s the bottom line?
GM foods are as safe and there is
promise for more nutritious food.
For some crops, environmental impacts
are similar or less than conventional
GM is an important tool for the plant
GM technology can solve problems that
can’t be solved in other ways at present.
The benefits will be spread between
biotech companies, farmers and