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mains Test Series 2018
Q. Bringing GM to the table: Recently Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee has cleared GM mustard for commercial production, but some groups have opposed it. Bring out the merits and de-merits of Genetically Modified Crops.
Jun 24, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-3

Ans :

Introduction-

The question of whether India should allow commercial production of GM crops has been one of the more enduring public policy debates over the last decade and a half. After the approval of Bt cotton in 2002, the attempt to bring Bt Brinjal into commercial production faced serious resistance. There are different advantages and disadvantages of GM foods, although to what extent they can help or harm humans and the environment is a debatable aspect of this technology.

Benefits of GM Foods:

  • A proposed benefit of GM foods is that they can potentially produce higher crop yields, which could help by feeding more people in developing countries.
  • Improved food quality is another benefit associated with GM foods. A tomato, for instance, can be engineered to stay fresher for longer, thereby extending its shelf life in the supermarket.
  • GM crops can withstand weather fluctuations and extremes. This means that they can provide sufficient yields and quality despite a severe, poor weather season.
  • GM foods can be engineered to have a high content of a specific nutrient that is lacking in the diet of a local population group. The vitamin A rich 'golden rice' is one example of a GM food that has been engineered to have high levels of a nutrient.

Issues with GM Foods:

  • A worrisome issue in GM foods is the ability of a food to trigger an allergy in humans. Some of the genes used in GM technology might be taken from a food that causes allergies in some people.
  • Other organisms in the ecosystem could be harmed, which would lead to a lower level of biodiversity. By removing one pest that harms the crop, you could be removing a food source for an animal.
  • Some GM foods are modified using bacteria and viruses; there is a fear that we will see the emergence of new diseases. The threat to human health is a worrisome aspect of GM technology and one that has received a great deal of debate.

Conclusion:

In the context of technologies such as GM crops, where there is significant scientific uncertainty over their safety, the precautionary principle suggests that we wait until a broader scientific consensus is achieved. For example, regulations in Europe, where GM crops face similar opposition, explicitly invoke the precautionary principle as the basis for deciding whether GM foods should be allowed.


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