Technology

In the next big things: Goodbye to GM, say hello to GE foods

NPR

This is from India Today’s latest series “The next big things”. 

Genetically Modified (GM) crops that have their DNAs manipulated in laboratories to develop new traits  (which help improve their yield and ability to resist pests and diseases) have been around for decades. But in India, these crops with Bt Cotton being the only GM crop allowed to be planted. GM food crops for brinjal, mustard and potato are still awaiting government permission. Field trails four years ago when civil society groups protested about the harm the crop may cause. Meanwhile, research across the world has of genetic engineering of crops that no mischief is afoot. Instead of introducing a foreign DNA into seeds – the cause of much of the crops – scientists are using gene editing methods with high precision to alter inherent traits. In laboratory greenhouses in the US, UK, South Korea and China plants are having their genes edited to improve their yield and make them far more resistant to the host of newer microbes and pests that have been attacking them. Work in gene editing of rice, now being done in China will be of great interest in India as there has been no major break-through in rice growing technology in recent years. It’s time India sheds its inhibitions and joins the worldwide race to develop gene edited (GE) plants.

The Breakthrough

Genetic editing takes the plant’s pre-existing genetic information and with deletions and sequence swaps creates a genome that invigorates preferred super traits.

Genetically edited foods should find more acceptance since they are ‘natural’ , no foreign genes are introduced in the crop.

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