GM Crops Advantages and Disadvantages

GM Crops Advantages, GM Crops Production in India

Today, we discuss the topic of the production of GM crops and GM crops advantages and disadvantages.

GM crops (genetically modified crops)

What are GM crops? GM full form is ‘genetic modification’ or ‘genetically modified’. A GM organism is any living thing for example microbe, plant, fungus or animal whose genetic substance or material has been altered through genetic engineering. GM crops are those that scientists have engineered to have certain traits, for example, herbicide resistance, or to grow in certain ways that may be impossible naturally. Put very simply, this is done by cutting up the DNA of one living thing, taking out the section or gene that creates the desired trait and inserting that section into the DNA of the crop. Sometimes these sections are taken from other plants; other times they are from completely different organisms, such as bacteria.

GM is a popular technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To create a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Generally, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds formed by these plants will inherit the new DNA.

GM crops are particular plants used in agriculture. The DNA of such plants has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases, the aim is to initiate a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops have resistance to certain pests, a decrease of spoilage, diseases, environmental conditions, resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to an herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops contain the production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation. Now let us get into the details of GM crops advantages and disadvantages and the production of genetically modified crops.

Producing GM crops

The first stage in making a genetically modified plant requires the transfer of DNA into a plant cell. One of the techniques used to transfer DNA is to coat the surface of small metal particles with the relevant DNA fragment and bombard the particles into the plant cells. Another technique is to use a bacterium or virus. There are many viruses and bacteria that transfer their DNA into a host cell as a standard part of their life cycle. For genetically modified plants, the bacterium most frequently used is called Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The gene or section of interest is transferred into the bacterium and the bacterial cells then transfer the new DNA to the genome of the plant cells. The plant cells that have successfully taken up the DNA are then grown to form a new plant. This is possible because individual plant cells have an impressive capacity to make entire plants. On rare occasions, the procedure of DNA transfer can happen without deliberate human intervention. For example, the sweet potato has DNA sequences that were transferred thousands of years ago, from Agrobacterium bacteria into the sweet potato genome.

Read: Biosensors Uses in Agriculture.

Genetically modified foods:

What are genetically modified foods?

Soybeans: The GM soybean plant is resistant to pests and disease as well as being tolerant of herbicides that are mainly effective, allowing for less herbicide use overall.

Arctic Apple: Arctic apple is developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits of British Columbia, Canada; this new fruit was developed by turning off the enzyme in apples that source them to brown when cut, bruised or bitten.

Corn (field & sweet): The GM version of field or sweet corn protects the crop against corn rootworms and the Asian corn borer. Like GM field corn, GM sweet corn protects the crop against destructive pests.

Alfalfa: The GM version of alfalfa is tolerant of some herbicides, allowing for a reduced amount of chemicals required for weed control.

Canola: Canola has been modified through biotechnology to create it tolerant to some herbicides. This allows for a reduced amount of chemicals required for weed control. The modified plant has resistance to pests and fungus.

Cotton: Genetically modified cotton requires fewer pesticides and protects against the cotton bollworm.

Sugar Beets: The GM sugar beet has increased tolerance to some herbicides, allowing for a reduced quantity of chemicals needed for weed control. GM sugar beets have virus and pest resistance traits.

Papaya: The GM plant of papaya makes the plant resistant to the prevalent Papaya Ringspot Virus.

Squash: GM squash has traits that develop the plant’s defense against viruses.

Innate Potato: This new potato that resists browning and has less unsightly wasteful bruises has been standard by the USDA for commercial planting.

Aquabounty Salmon: This new salmon is genetically engineered to achieve market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. It is obtainable to consumers in Canada.

Regulating GM crops

Development, cultivation and transboundary group of GM crops is regulated so as to ensure the safety of animal health, human health, and biodiversity. In India, such regulations are present in the Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export, and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms (HM) Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, 1989 under the Environment Protection Act (1986). The rules will cover:

  • All activities involving research and development of products containing GM crops including transgenic crops, pharma products, industrial products, food, and foodstuffs.
  • Field and clinical trials
  • Deliberate or unintentional release
  • Import, export, and manufacture

What are potential GM crops of the future? or Really GM crops advantages are considered?

Some potential applications of GM crop technology are:

Nutritional enhancement: Higher vitamin content; extra healthful fatty acid profiles;

Stress tolerance: Tolerance to high and low temperatures, salinity, and drought;

Disease resistance: For instance, orange trees resistant to citrus greening disease or American chestnut trees resistant to fungal blight;

Biofuels: Plants with changed cell wall composition for more efficient conversion to ethanol;

Phytoremediation: Plants that extract and concentrate contaminants similar to heavy metals from polluted sites.

Genetically modified crops in India

The country has yet to approve commercial cultivation of a GM crop. The genetically modified cash crop under commercial cultivation in India is cotton.

Bt Cotton
BT Cotton.
BT Cotton.

Read: Importance of Bee Pollination.

Bt cotton is a genetically modified plant. For the time being, the genetically modified crop that is under cultivation in India is Bt cotton which is grown over 10.8 million hectares. Bt cotton was first to utilize in India in 2002.

Bt Brinjal

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in 2007 recommended the commercial release of Bt Brinjal, which was developed by Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company) in collaboration with the Dharward University of Agricultural Sciences & the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. But the proposal was blocked in 2010.


Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 or DMH-11 is a genetically modified selection of mustard developed by the Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants. The researchers at Delhi University have created hybridized mustard DMH-11 using “barnase or barstar” technology for genetic modification. GM mustard is Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crop. If approved by the Centre, this will be the second GM crop, after Bt Cotton, and the first transgenic food crop to be acceptable for cultivation in the country.

Genetically modifying a plant production

A number of methods exist for the production of GM plants. The most normally employed methods are the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which is naturally able to transfer DNA to plants, and the ‘gene gun’, which shoots microscopic particles coated with DNA into the plant cell. Generally, individual plant cells are targeted and these are regenerated into total GM plants using tissue culture techniques. Three aspects of this process have raised debate with regard to human health.

  1. The use of selectable markers to recognize transformed cells
  2. Transfer of extraneous DNA into the plant genome (i.e. genes other than those being studied)
  3. The chance of increased mutations in genetically modified plants compared to non-GM counterparts due to tissue culture processes used in their production and the rearrangement of DNA around the insertion site of foreign genes.

To facilitate the transformation procedure, a selectable marker gene conferring, for example, resistance to an antibiotic (e.g. kanamycin, which will kill a regular non-GM plant cell), is often co-transferred with the gene or section of interest to allow discrimination of GM tissue and regeneration of GM plants. Critics of the knowledge have stated that there is a risk of the spread of antibiotic resistance to the bacterial population either in the soil or in the human gut after ingestion of GM food. However, these antibiotic resistance genes were primarily isolated from bacteria and are already widespread in the bacterial population.

The second phase of the plant transformation procedure that has been criticized is that unnecessary DNA is transferred into the plant genome as an effect of the engineering and transfer process. Of course, there is no cause that DNA per se should be harmful, as it is consumed by humans in all foods, but again plant technologists have responded to the criticism by designing ‘minimal cassettes’ in which only the gene of interest moves into the plant.

Read: Methods of Cattle Fattening.

Finally, it has been claimed that GM plants carry more mutations than their untransformed counterparts as an effect of the production method. Genome-wide mutations could be produced by the tissue culture process, generating so-called somaclonal variation, and endogenous DNA rearrangements could occur around the integrated transgene. Theoretically, plants may be formed with, for example, reduced levels of nutrients or increased levels of allergens or toxins (although the alternative must hold true, that positive traits may be expressed).

However, it must be emphasized that GM crops grown to date have been produced under rigorous regulatory frameworks, and have been extensively safety tested prior to commercialization.

GM crops advantages:

The advantages of genetically modified crops will be explained below;

  • The main advantage of genetically modified foods is that crop yields become more consistent and productive, allowing more people to be fed. According to Oxfam, the world currently formed about 20% more food calories than what is required for every human being to be healthy.
  • GM crops improve production and raise farmer’s income. Indian farmers are still practicing the traditional procedure of seeding and cultivation, which required scientific moves for raising their production. Hence, it is one of the moves to develop farm production.
  • It reduces the use of pesticide and insecticide through farming that might be great moves for the betterment of the food supply.
  • GM crops can feed a rapidly increasing population because it shows dramatically increased yields. It can create more in a small area of land.
  • Genetically modified foods have a very long shelf life. This enhances the ease of transportation and storage.
  • Through genetic modifications, genetically modified crops are prepared resistant to diseases. This will enhance their sustainability and yield.

Disadvantages of GM crops

The disadvantages of genetically modified crops will be explained below;

  • The production imposes high risks to the disruption of ecosystem and biodiversity because the “better” traits formed from engineering genes can effect in the favoring of one organism. Hence, it can eventually disrupt the natural procedure of gene flow.
  • GM crops have inbuilt antibiotic properties due to their inbuilt mechanisms for disease control. This can effect in superbugs which can disrupt the health care sector.
  • GM crops increase the cost of cultivation and more inclined towards marketization of farming that works on immoral profits.
  • The transgenic crops endanger not only for farmers but also the trade, and the environment as well.
  • GM crops are biologically altered. Thus, biotech foods may pose a human health risk.

That’s all folks about GM crops production and GM crops advantages and disadvantages. Keep farming!.

Read: Growing Organic Chilles in Containers.


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