Should we grow GM mustard?
India is all about to change the way farmers look at crops. The long pending approval on genetically modified (GM) crop, mustard to begin with, seems to nearing an affirmative end or should we say a beginning. We are one of the biggest producers of mustards. The GM derived crop is likely to yield about 25% more seeds than the normally cultivated ones.
The skeptical lots of people are giving examples of how the decision back in 2010 was unsuccessful when a GM version of brinjal or eggplant was cultivated with bacterial gene that thwarts insect pests. Cotton cultivation has successfully been equipped with the procedure since 2004 and the yield has been more than 90% of what it was earlier. Is it about time when we give GM technology a go with mustard too?Yes1. Safety reviews:
It has been found in the latest reports on the safety review of GM mustards that it does not raise any public health or safety concerns for humans or animals. The issue has long been pending but now that the studies have confirmed that the GM variety will be safe and economically more beneficial, there should be no reason for rejecting the approval.2. Contents:
The GM variety is to be equipped with genes from a soil microbe that manipulate pollen development in a way such that the variety will produce hybrids more easily in the crop that is usually self pollinating. This technique will help in the production of about 25% more seeds than the traditional method and hence more oil could be extracted.3. Examples:
We can go by the example of Canada that produces transgenic version of a crop which is similar to mustard, rapeseed. Other countries like Japan that do not grow transgenic produce are still the biggest importers of these products which are clear example of the consumption safety of the genetically modified versions of edible crops.4. Catering to the demands:
Rising population, more mouths to feed, less development on agricultural front and the biggest of all, poverty – these are the challenges that need a different approach now if they have to be dealt with. In years to come, demands will outgrow production and since we also cater to exporting to other nations, our GDP is bound to see bad days unless we adapt new technologies like the one being talked about.No1. Inadequate studies:
The GM variety of edible crop production should be given more time and research before it is applied on products that are highly used in the whole of the country and even exported. Anything going wrong with the safety measures and the outcome of the technique could harm a lot of people and animals.2. Cautionary note:
It is to be noted that even though the safety review of about 133 pages state that the technique is safe and shall not harm humans or animals, there is a cautionary note that says that it could harm honey bees and honey production in the areas where these GM mustards shall be grown. It has warned that insects and other organism of that area should be monitored which clearly shows that the study needs more time.3. It doesn’t increase yield:
It is being said that the report of 25% increase in yield is only a false story being spread in order to lure government and people to support the initiative. The GM variety is simply the hybrid variety where the genes are altered with an alien gene and that does not increase the yield of a product unless more advanced technologies will be implemented to give a tough competition to poor farmers.4. Challenges:
The GM variety of cotton is being rebuked on grounds that the insect was meant to be immune over the years and the crop is being plagued by different variants of pests, leading to a huge rise in the usage of pesticides. All hybrid crops have been known to face this issue where pests increased and so did the usage of pesticides. Is this what we intend to feed the future of our nation?5. Affecting nearby crops:
Protestors are of the view that cultivating GM mustard in a field that is adjacent to the fields of farmers who grow with the traditional organic method will affect them too. The pests will catch up all the nearing fields and they will be forced to use pesticides too. They may lose their certification in the process.
Growing GM mustard does have it pros like higher yield if reports are to be believed but it can also not be ignored that the fund allocated for agricultural research in our country is quite less which could lead to inadequate research and reviews based on incomplete truths and findings. Giving it a few more years of study should not harm the advocates of GM mustard and also ensure people that the cons have been thoroughly considered.