According to biotechnologist Dr., Deepak Pental said that the Breakthroughs in genetic engineering and editing are critical to India achieving a sustainable agricultural system of low-cost input and high yield, in New Delhi.
Noting that the growing population will lead to a considerable food grain requirement, Pental, a genetics professor and former vice-chancellor of Delhi University, said there was an urgent need to push for research and development in Indian agriculture.
Pesticide use vs genetic engineering, discussing the reason behind the low crop yield in India, Pental said it was found that there is an intense pest and pathogen pressure on crops. This is why there’s a stronger case for genetic engineering.
There’s no evidence of any impact of GM mustard on honeybees and honey as it’s a pressure put on by activists, which we buckle under. Gene similar to GM Mustard is present in canola cultivated in Canada, which also exports both honey and canola oil without any repercussions.”
Alternaria blight is a major mustard crop disease caused by the fungus Alternaria brassicae, which affects crop production by yield loss of up to 70 percent.
“Countries like Canada and China who grow hybrid oilseed crops like mustard have double yield than us as they grow hybrid varieties crops developed by immense R&D investments. However, the technology to produce hybrid seeds in India is GM, which is still lying on the shelf,” said Pental.
Siraj Hussain, the senior visiting fellow at ICRIER who was also present at the lecture, pointed out that India’s success in agri-export has been due to R&D investment in the sector.