GM crops

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  1. Transgenic plants are those that have been genetically modified using recombinant DNA technology.
  2. Genetic modification is done to confer a particular trait to the plant with one of the following properties
  3. Increased yield of a crop
  4. Increased nutritional content of a crop
  5. Developing resistance to
    • Abiotic stresses like temperature, salinity or herbicide-resistant
    • Biotic stresses like insect-resistant crops.
  6. BT cotton is the only genetically modified crop that is commercially allowed in India from 2002.
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Regulation of GM crops in India

  • GMOs and the products thereof are regulated under the “Rules for the manufacture, use, import, export & storage of hazardous microorganisms, genetically engineered organisms or cells, 1989” under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The rules include within its purview all molecular genetics techniques including R-DNA, gene editing techniques, gene drive etc.

Institutional framework

  • The rules are enforced by the MOEFCC, DBT and State Governments.
  • GM Crops – Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee under MoEF is the final approval authority for allowing GM crops in fields including field trials.
  • It also includes approval for commercial cultivation of GM crops.
  • GEAC is also responsible for certification of GM organisms.
  • Besides food has been moved out of Regulation of Genome Engineering Technologies recently.
  • Accordingly Food Safety and Standards Authority of India regulates manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import GM food in India.

GM crops: Recent developments

Bt Crops: Mechanism: Importance of bacillus thuringiensis

The soil-dwelling bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis produce spores containing crystals that are poisonous to insect’s digestive system (its gut) but harmless to the crop plants and to people.

Thus, all Bt crops involve inserting a gene from soil bacteria to the plant to make it express a crystal that kill the insect by attacking its digestive tract.

Bt cotton

Resistance to bollworm pest Only GM crop allowed in India

Bt brinjal

Bt brinjal is genetically engineered by inserting a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis for its insecticidal property.

Since 2010 there is an indefinite moratorium on commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in India.

HTBT Cotton

Short for Herbicide Resistant Bt Cotton

The cotton seed is inserted with gene from a soil bacterium.

This produces a modified protein glyphosate which makes it herbicide resistant.

Problem with Glyphosate

Glyphosate is a herbicide used in cotton fields which is known to be harmful to soil and also classified as ‘probable human carcinogen’ by WHO.

Besides glyphosate also impacts honeybee gut microbiome thereby affecting pollination.

GM Mustard(DMH-11)
Dhara Mustard Hybrid

Recently GEAC approved GM mustard for commercial use the first genetically modified crop in the country to get approval in two decades. 

About GM Mustard

Transgenic hybrid variety.

Under normal conditions mustard plants do not cross across varieties as they are self-pollinating in nature.

As a result we do not have hybrid varieties of mustard due to which plant-breeders are not able to induce desired trait in mustard plants.

Genetic modification is done to alter the genes of 2 mustard varieties including Varuna and Heera.

Genetic modification is done with the help of soil bacteria barnese and barstar which help create hybrid varieties of mustard.


Increase in yield upto 20-30%

Seeks to attain self-sufficiency in edible oil seeds production


The transgenic hybrid variety becomes tolerant to a herbicide called glufosinate-ammonium upon genetic modification.

Herbicides are extensively used in field trials including glyphosate, endosulphan.

These will harm honey bee which are the biggest pollinators of mustard field.

Golden Rice

Vitamin A

2 genes from daffodil and 1 from bacteria

Soybean Sugar beet Sugarcane

Herbicide tolerant (glyphosate, glufosinate)

Edible vaccines

A new approach for delivering  vaccine is transgenic food crops


A rice-based mucosal vaccine for cholera.

Plant-based mRNA vaccines using transgenic lettuce are developed.

GM Rubber

Worlds 1st planted in Assam. 

To make it more tolerant to colder climates as rubber is native to warm humid amazon forests.

GM Soymeal

India will import GM soymeal for the 1st time to be used as a livestock feed particularly in the poultry


Protein packed GM potato that contains 60% more protein than a wild-type potato

GM bacteria for nitrogen fixation

Genetically modified bacteria are made that copy the action of Rhizobium to induce the ability of nitrogen fixation in the roots of crops other than legumes

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