1. Home
  2. Agriculture World

Farmers to Get Drought-Resistant & Genome-Edited Rice Variety by 2026: Narendra Singh Tomar

This is expected to be the first variety of agricultural crop developed using genome-edited technology to be commercialized in the country within the next four years. Scientists distinguish genome-edited plants from genetically modified organisms (GMO) technology. Genome editing refers to a set of technologies that allow scientists to alter an organism's DNA.

Shivam Dwivedi
Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture Minister
Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture Minister

A drought-resistant rice variety developed for the first time in the country using genome-edited technology is expected to be available for field evaluation by Kharif 2024 and for commercial cultivation by farmers by 2026, according to the agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Tomar stated in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday (19th July 2022) that the environment ministry & Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have sanctioned the field evaluation of genome-edited rice varieties during the Kharif 2024 season to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi.

The research is conducted with the approval of an institutional biosafety committee established by DBT under the Environment Protection Act of 1986. "The new rice variety is expected to improve water use efficiency in paddy cultivation and help farmers take up crops despite a lack of rainfall," said KC Bansal, secretary of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

This is expected to be the first variety of agricultural crops developed using genome-edited technology to be commercialized in the country within the next four years.

To ensure wider use of this technology and accelerate genetic improvement of crops in the country, the government exempted certain types of genome-edited crops from the stringent bio-safety regulations applicable to genetically-modified (GM) crops in March. Several crops are being developed using genome-edited technology and are ready for field testing.

In a notification, the environment ministry exempted site-directed nuclease (SDN) 1 and 2 genomes from Rules 7-11 of the Environment Protection Act, allowing it to avoid a lengthy approval process for GM crops through the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

Scientists with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research believe the technology holds great promise, but more work needs to be done to develop oilseed and pulse crop varieties that are resistant to diseases, insects, and pests, as well as drought, salinity, and heat stress.

Scientists distinguish genome-edited plants from genetically modified organisms (GMO) technology. Genome editing refers to a set of technologies that allow scientists to alter an organism's DNA.

The United States and China are pioneers in using this technology to develop crop varieties such as rice, maize, soyabean, canola, and tomato that can withstand biotic and abiotic stresses caused by climate change. Last year, a group of eminent agricultural scientists wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting that genome-editing technology for the sector be made more widely available.

In the case of GM technology, applicants must apply to the GEAC, which, along with states, employs time-consuming testing methods. Cotton is currently the only GM crop that has been approved for commercial cultivation in the country.

Take a Quiz on Green Revolution Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters