GMO in India
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Genetically Modified Crops – An Indian Perspective
The development of genetically modified (GM) crops has gained enhanced attention as part of a number of aspects. Scientists belonging to both private as well as public sectors are looking forward to different modification on biotechnological grounds. However, for the industries, it has proved to be a mean for driving massive revenue for their very own firms. For around twenty years of scientific developments, it has been found that the development of massive amount of GMOs has lead towards cost saving of more than $473 millions. However, the problem is the myths surrounding the genetically modified crops in India regarding their harmful and detrimental impacts on the environment. Questions of economic collapse and other environmental issues are at hand and are quite commonly made on vague assumptions rather than scientific proofs. The paper will answer questions to the most common issues that are faced by the general populace and look for answers for research questions.
Natasha Gilbert and Nature Magazine (2015) have pointed out a total of three myths that are surrounding the production and development of genetically modified crops and foods at large. The most severe myth related to it is related to genetically modified cotton is leading towards the suicides of thousands of Indian farmers. The article has mentioned of an interview with Vandana Shiva who has alleged Monsanto that it is responsible for the deaths of around 300,000 Indian farmers with their entry within the market. The claim has been found vague and based on the statistics of 1990s; however, Monsanto has started to sell the genetically modified crops in early 2002. Bacillus thuringiensis cotton, also referred to as Bt Cotton has suffered from a massive set back at the initial stages; however, it has become much more resistant against the insects.
Another problem that is quite commonly linked with genetically modified crops is the development of severe economic issues on massive scale. Bennett et al. (59-71) have conducted the study from the perspective of commercially growing Bt cotton in Maharashtra state of India. The study has compared more than 9000 samples of Bt cotton and showed that the commercialization of them has allowed the formulation of massive economic boom for the cotton growers. However, the performance enhancement was not completely constructive in almost every part of Maharashtra. A similar outcome has also been observed by Louise Fresco (1-2). In the article, it has been discovered that most of the countries have a negative emotional attachment with the genetically modified crops and has been hindering the human race from harvesting the very fruits of it. Also, the domains of food quality and food safety were also explored as part of the very article. In another study Qaim and Kouser (1-3) have showed their concern regarding the production of genetically modified crops and the lack of use to eradicate global hunger. They have argued that the massive production capability has allowed the deterioration of food quality and most importantly, nutrient value of the food. However, for the Indian perspective, they have concluded that the income gained from the Bt cotton adoption from the smallholder farm has positive impacts on the dietary quality and food security issues.
A later study conducted by Qaim et al. (48-58) has showed the very impacts of Bt Cotton on the growing economies like India. The study has also found out about the potential usage of Bt Cotton for enhancement in yield and production quality. Within the domain of genetically modified Bt cotton, the effectiveness of pesticides and patters for usage of pesticide is of considerable importance. Nevertheless, the article from Gilbert and Nature magazine reflects that the genetically modified crops have the tendency to bred super-weeds.
As per Bennett et al. (57-91), India stands third in the domain of cotton manufacturing after the economics of the United States and China. Having 9 million hectares of land that is being cultivated, India has more than around 20% of the cumulative cotton area thereby having more than 12% global cotton production. Also, cotton is among the most common cash crop for Indian farmers accounting for around more than 300 kg/ha in contrast with the world, the total of 580 kg/ha. However, one of the most hindering factors in the agricultural history of India includes the formulation of insect pests; more specifically, bollworms that have severely disrupted the production of cotton in past. Owing to that, the Government of India on the verge of March 2002 has started the commercial production of genetically modified Bt cotton. The Bt cotton has an inherent quality of producing a toxin that inhibits the growth of bollworms. Around 29,000 hectares were planted with the Bt cotton thereby leading towards the plantation of Bt cotton in early 2002 within Indian regions. More than 12,000 hectares of Bt cotton was grown within the state of Maharashtra by a team of more than 17,000 farmers working under the government.
To fight against the number of problems related to the genetically modified crops, it is of importance to create a framework of solution for enhancing the understanding of the problem and solving it. The issues of cost effective measures and proper testing of these genetic modified crops are of considerable importance in terms of its growing resistance of different pests and insects.
Discussion and Finding
Genetically modified Bt cotton is one of the most vital and useful part of the economy of any country and more specifically, Indian economy. Louise Fresco (1-2) has highlighted that almost every developing countries are practicing the development of genetically modified crops that include cotton and soybean. However, research has been conducted on different forest trees for enhancement of their species. The results are not commercialized at the current moment. Also, the areas of tropical fruit tree species also have been neglected on the major scale. It can also be found that the mass production of crops has raised questions regarding the food quality and food safety thereby leading to issues of sustainability on the large scale.
Besides all the useful impacts of it, the profitability of this growing field of interest has brought different investors to turn their focus from different system related approaches towards a much more diversified pest management outlook. Surely, it has provided tremendous resilience for monocultures. Nonetheless, they have somehow overlooked the very potential of environment aspects that can result as part of their pest focused strategies.
Another important aspect of it includes the formulation of transgenes spread towards the wild crops in some parts of Mexico. Formulation of the problems of transgenes has reflected that the locally produced maize in mountainous region of Oaxaca, Mexico has segment of the DNA used for spurring expression of the transgenes in insect resistant and glyphosate tolerate Monsanto’s maize. Surely, the farmers did not know about the transgenic nature of the seeds and has resulted from the cross breeding of the genetically modified maize thereby having transgenic strand within it. However, as Louise Fresco (2) has observed that the production of transgenic crops allows massive investment opportunities and hence, the massive return of the investment. The very nature of the genetically modified technology on the scales of investment has reflected that the concentration of capital by that extra returns can lead towards disturbing economies of scale of any developing countries; more specifically, India.
The issue is not limited to the distribution and formulation of such genetically modified seeds for crops and food, rather it the policy of the government is also questioned while considering that. The Government of India should have to look forward towards formulation and later, implementation of sound policy in the light of current economic and development conditions. Nevertheless, the cost of seeds and its availability is another serious issue that needs proper policy making at local as well as international scales. On a global level, the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) has been creating the practical cooperation with the very convention on biological diversity along with the biosafety protocol.
One of the most important factors to consider is to assess the variables in this regard. In this regard, another study by Bennett et al. (96-100) has showed that the implications of the different variable on market conditions cost of production, the cost of living for farmers and yield of cotton. The findings have also revealed that the commercialization of Bt Cotton in India has promoted a significant thrust on the yields of Bt cotton as compared to non-Bt cotton. Moreover, it has also been observed that the usage of insecticides has been quite smaller as compared to non-Bt cotton. Nevertheless, the higher amount of profit generation is not related with the reduced cost (which implies lesser usage of insecticides). It was quite related to the high revenue generated from higher yield provided that the Bt cotton is not disadvantaged with the fickle market. The very same outlooks are also provided as part of study conducted by Qaim and Kouser (1-2) that shows that there are significant grounds of research needed to study the complex interaction of different variables thereby providing a much versatile and diversified solution to the question. However, the research has showed that the income gains via Bt cotton within smallholder’s farm and their household within India possess constructive and positive impact under the domains of dietary quality and food security. Also, it has been pronounced that the genetically modified crops are not responsible for the issues of malnutrition and hunger; rather, the multi-pronged solutions are the core essence of the most complex problems.
All in all, it can be concluded that the genetically modified crops do not pose a severe threat to the economies of the country in the short term perspective. However, considering the long-term perspective, the solution of balancing the economies of scale is through vigorous governmental monitoring, pricing and distribution policies of the genetically modified seeds. Under this regard, the threat for suicides of farmers should not have to be neglected under any circumstances and hence, better income gains should have to be readily available for local farmers to have much better financial prospects of their household. Another important aspect is that of environment concern regarding genetically modified crops. Unfortunately, enough research in not available under the domain of environmental impacts of genetically modified crops on superweed formation. Also, the research at hand is not credible enough because of contradictory evidence as part of research.
The tremendous impact of driving the economy of the country through genetically modified crops can enhance the yield of crops thereby leading towards much better outlook on national scales. However, a core understanding of these basic economic aspects should also have to be linked with the developing monopoly of a few corporate companies. Apart from that, the ethical grounds for genetic modifications should also be explored completed to assess the potential viability and ethnic grounds for production of genetically modified crops. Surely, the shine of cutting edge technology of molecular biology and genetic engineering might blind a significant amount of industrialists, governments and also scientists. Besides, the glamour of newly developed technologies, they should also have to put forward considerable investment in more traditional public sectors that include water and soil management together with ecology diversification. Genetic modification is not inherently good alternative to naturally available crops and food resources, but, due to the growing demand of food and crops as part of growing population of India has left government no choice but to move towards alternatives for short term success. Hence, it is of ample importance to develop a perfect balance between the exploitation of natural resources and creating alternative solutions for those very resources.
Bennett, Richard M., et al. “Economic impact of genetically modified cotton in India.” (2005). pp. 96-100.
Bennett, Richard, et al. “Farm-level economic performance of genetically modified cotton in Maharashtra, India.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 28.1 (2006): 59-71.
Fresco, Louise. “Genetically modified crops.” Spotlight: Issues in World Agriculture. FAO, Rome (2001).
Natasha Gilbert, Nature Magazine. ‘A Hard Look At 3 Myths About Genetically Modified Crops’.Scientificamerican.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.
Qaim, Matin, and Shahzad Kouser. “Genetically modified crops and food security.” (2013): e64879.
Qaim, Matin, et al. “Adoption of Bt cotton and impact variability: Insights from India.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 28.1 (2006): 48-58.