Field Trials of GM Seeds Underway in Some States.

Over the last two years, the seed industry in India is witnessing increased level of activity and enthusiasm over field testing of genetically modified (GM) seeds.

For crops such as cotton, rice, maize, brinjal, mustard and chickpea, field trials of GM seeds underway in some states. However the pace of adoption of GM seeds in India so far has been slow with commercialization of only one GM crop in last 15 years whereas other countries such as the USA, China, Canada and Brazil have commercialised eight, five, four and three GM crops, said ICRA.

Moreover from CY 2010 to CY 2015, India has recorded a CAGR of 4% in area under cultivation of GM crops whereas Brazil has recorded CAGR of 10% during the same period. Adoption of GM seeds, be it for food crops or industrial crops, in India still faces significant resistance from its opponents, with some of the key concerns being threat to bio-diversity, safety aspects for human consumption, possibility of concentration of pricing power with large multinational corporations and lack of transparent regulatory framework.

“Post adoption of Bt cottonseed, India has gone slow on adoption of GM seeds. Despite the industry working on development of many GM seeds, there has not been any commercialisation beyond Bt cottonseed in past several years. The industry faces significant negative sentiment against the GM crops especially in the food sector. Delayed commercialisation and persisting negative sentiment in the industry could hamper the greater scientific research and development in the sector. Delays remain a concern given the rising population and need for increasing yields to support the growing demand,” said Mr. Sachin Sachdeva, Associate Head & AVP – Corporate Ratings, ICRA Limited.

To produce more food, rising global population is putting pressures on farmlands, especially in developing countries like India and given that the area under cultivation cannot be increased beyond a certain limit, the only way to increase production is through yield improvements.

It needs to address the raised concerns and also promote more scientific research in the agriculture sector. To meet the rising demand, the Government of India (GoI) is looking to promote commercialisation of the GM technology, it also has to protect the farmers who use such seeds, against possible under performance, and the consumers who consume the GM crops against any adverse health effects.


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