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Genomics and Biology. Biotechnology and genomics.
Impact of GM crops on world agriculture scenario


Probably no discovery in plant sciences has had, in so short a time, such far reaching consequences on agriculture as the method reported in 1983 for the genetic modification of plants using gene technology. In 2005, such genetically modified varieties comprised 60% of global soy bean cultivation, 14% of maize, 28% of cotton and 18% of rape seed; between 2003 and 2005 the overall increase of the area worldwide given over to GM crops was 33%. This clearly demonstrates that the application of gene technology in agriculture has economically been very successful.

Genetic modifications in crop plants have so far focused primarily on the production of varieties for minimising harvest losses due to weeds, and the generation of insect-resistant varieties to decrease losses from insect damage. More recent developments are directed to protection against viral and fungal infections, the enhancement of tolerance towards drought and salinity, the formation of male sterile plants for the generation of productive hybrids, and the improvement of the nutritional quality of crop plants, for example by modifying the fatty acid composition in oil seeds.

The advent of the genetically modified seeds and plant for increasing productivity and reducing crop losses is a boon for countries like India from the point of view of food security and fighting hunger and poverty. Government also needs to frame suitable and transparent policy framework for bringing out comprehensive legislation on the industry and suitable safeguards to avoid the possible pitfalls.

Rapid strides in this field of agricultural biotechnology has allowed and opened new doors to scientists, companies and policy makers to explore the possibilities of use of the technology in farming. Today even in developing countries, more and more land is being planted with genetically modified varieties of an ever-expanding number of crops. Research efforts are being made to genetically modify most plants with a high economic value such as cereals, fruits, vegetables etc. Rapid strides in this field of biotechnology has allowed and opened new vistas of opportunities to scientists and companies to explore the possibilities of use of the technology in farming. Today even in developing countries, more and more land is being planted with genetically modified varieties of an ever-expanding number of crops. Research efforts are being made to genetically modify most plants with a high economic value such as cereals, fruits, vegetables etc. Challenge for countries like India is to reap the benefits of the new technology and safeguard its interests through various measures. The challenge of producing more food grains to feed the ever increasing population of India that has already crossed one billion mark with less resources has bought companies to invest in GM crops.

A lot of awareness campaigns have to be conducted to reach out to the farmers to brief them about the benefits of using seeds that are resistant to pests, diseases, herbicides, and crops which are tolerant to drought, cold, salinity and other harsh environments. This will bring in confidence among the farmers as well as policy makers.
 

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