GM crops could contribute to higher food output: ICAR chief

KARNAL: A discussion on the impact of the genetically modified (GM) crops on food security was organised at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal on Saturday where experts deliberated over various aspects of the issue. The discussion was part of D Sundaresan Memorial Oration on impact of genetically modified crops on food security.
The director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Trilochan Mohapatra, who is the secretary of the department of agricultural research and education (DARE), presented his views on the GM crops. He said, “Around 900 million people in the world are undernourished. Many more suffer from specific nutritional deficiencies, often related to insufficient intake of micro-nutrients. Eradicating hunger is a central part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. In order to achieve the goals, genetically modified (GM) crops are also mentioned on some occasions, as scientists see the development and use of GM crops as the key to reduce hunger amidst other controversies.”
He said, “There are three possible pathways how GM crops could impact food security. First, GM crops could contribute to food production increases and thus improve the availability of food at global and local levels. Second, GM crops could affect food safety and food quality. Third, GM crops could influence the economic and social situation of farmers, thus improving or worsening their economic access to food.”
Elaborating about genomics, Mohapatra said the science of genomics had transformed the way new varieties in crops and breeds in animals are being selected by providing vast knowledge about the actual genes responsible for a preferred growth trait or DNA markers tightly-linked to the trait of interest.

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