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Genetically Modified (GM) plants

Genetically Modified Crops are those whose genetic makeup has been altered by introducing a foreign gene into its system. This is a popular technique to get the best of both worlds; we retain the desirable traits of the original plant and introduce new beneficial traits from other plants.

Genetic modification has been carried out in many commercially important crops like rice, cotton, soya bean and corn. Most traits introduce crop protection through resistance to a specific insect pest, resistance to decay, delayed ripening or herbicide tolerance. Some crops like rice are modified to increase the nutrient value. This modification is done in the laboratory and is introduced in the fields after extensive tests and trials.

National authorities must approve GM crops before they can be cultivated commercially. In India, several committees under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Department of Biotechnology are responsible involved in this process.

GM Crops have constantly raised concerns regarding their safety. For example, they can transfer their resistance to certain antibiotics to other bacteria and this could eventually make it very hard to target and kill the bacteria anymore. This can diminish the efficacy of antibiotics in humans and animals. Safety measures are being taken to combat these problems. This involves technologies that replace the need for antibiotic resistance genes.