Sathguru Management Consultants is a multidisciplinary consulting firm with strong expertise in Technology Commercialization & Innovation Advisory, Strategy Advisory, Corporate Finance & Transaction Advisory, Regulatory Advisory, Audit & Assurance Services, International Development, Executive Education and ERP solutions. Mr. K Vijayaraghavan is founder and chairman of Sathguru Management Consultants. He has vast knowledge about GM technology. Krishi Jagran team interacted with him and discussed about the Genetically Modifeied Food Crops. Read the excerpts from the interaction.
What is the main strategy behind India adopting GM (Genetically modified) food crops? Does it have to do with keeping abreast of technological innovation in this area?
The main strategy for adoption of GM crops in India is directly related to addressing food security concerns for the country through increasing crop yield and productivity for the burgeoning population with diminishing agricultural land. Given the constraints, the technological innovation taking place in agriculture, especially with introduction of GM crops ensures food sufficiency for the country is met along with socio economic upliftment of farming communities, reduction in use of chemical pesticides and improving environmental quality.
Neighbouring countries in South Asia are going ahead with GM food crops. Bangladesh has just cleared commercial cultivation of GM Brinjal (aubergine), raising fears in India of contamination through natural cross-pollination and lateral gene transfer.
Brinjal is a self-pollinating crop. Genetic modification of Brinjal has not in any way altered its pollination profile as the modification was not carried out for that purpose. Moreover, Brinjal (whether GM or Conventional) is not sexually compatible with wild Brinjal relatives. Brinjal and wild species of Brinjal have both co-existed in nature since ages and their diversity in nature has in no way decreased or been compromised.
Lateral gene transfer from plants to animals (including humans) or microorganisms is extremely unlikely. No evidence has been identified for any mechanism by which plant genes could be transferred to humans or animals, nor any evidence that such gene transfer has occurred for any plant species during evolutionary history, despite animals and humans eating large quantities of plant DNA. The likelihood of Brinjal genes transferring to humans and other animals is therefore negligible. Similarly gene transfer from Brinjal, or any other plant, to microorganisms is extremely unlikely. Horizontal gene transfer from plants to bacteria has not been demonstrated experimentally under natural conditions and deliberate attempts to induce such transfers have so far failed.
Will GM crops actually add to India’s food security?
Yes, as it will augment food productivity under limited availability of natural resources, ensure good crop yield under unfavourable environmental conditions and produce more with less agricultural input.
What are the most important challenges facing agriculture worldwide in the next 25 years?
Increasing food productivity under the pressure of climate change and environmental degradation is the most important challenge facing agriculture in the coming years. Increased instances of droughts and submergence, and changes in insect infestation patterns is making technological innovation in agriculture a mandatory practice.