Everything you need to know about gene revolution in crop plants !
Q. 1. What is gene revolution?
Ans. Gene revolution refers to quantum jump in the productivity of various field crops through use of transgenic cultivars. It has been achieved through the application of Agricultural Biotechnology. Hence agricultural biotechnology is referred to as the ‘Evergreen Revolution’ or the “Gene Revolution”. Modern biotechnology plays a vital role in the “Gene Revolution”.
Q. 2. Describe main points related to gene revolution.
Ans. Main points related to gene revolution are listed below:
i. Gene revolution is also known as ever green revolution.
ii. Gene revolution has been achieved through the application of agricultural biotechnology.
iii. It has been achieved by private seed companies.
iv. It is a privately owned technology.
v. It has been funded by private seed companies.
vi. Production and marketing of GM crops is controlled by private seed companies.
vii. Private companies do not disclose the parentage of the hybrids.
Q. 3. What are the main features of gene revolution?
Ans. Presently, the genetically modified crops (GM crops) are gaining increasing importance the world over. The GM crops are expected to spread around the world and lead to a global Gene Revolution.
The main features of gene revolution or ever green revolution in terms of ownership, funding source, accessibility of the technology, application of IPR, gene transfer, method employed, transparency, benefits, bio-safety, bioethical measures, etc. in relation to green revolution are briefly discussed hereunder.
Q. 4. Who is the Owner of gene technology?
Ans. It is privately owned technology. The ownership of the gene revolution is vested in the Private seed Companies or Corporations. Genetically modified crops are largely the product of private industry. This is partly because new technologies are far more costly than existing ones, and the biotechnology industry was able to gather the necessary funds to develop these technologies long before public awareness of GM crops could lead to publicly generated funding for GM crop development.
Successful companies typically focus on their markets with the intent of generating profit. With regard to agricultural biotechnology, companies in the United States and elsewhere have thus far created primarily seeds that farmers in developed countries can and will purchase: corn and soybeans that can tolerate a particular herbicide, corn and cotton that are resistant to particular pests, and food crops that last longer on the supermarket shelf.
Q. 5. What are the funding agencies of gene technology?
Ans. Gene technology is funded by private seed companies. Six seed companies viz., Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer Crop Science, DuPont, Dow and BASF Plant Science control practically the entire research and output in the field of transgenic plants. In the beginning, the green revolution program was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Later on other organizations such as the World Bank, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other national and international organizations joined the Rockefeller Foundation to make this program successful. It succeeded in terms of increasing food production in Asia, Latin America, and even parts of the industrialized world such as Great Britain.
Q. 6. What is the accessibility of gene technology?
And. The transgenic seed belongs to various seed companies, which strictly control its production and marketing. Developed countries grow such costly seeds because of their high yield under their environmental conditions.
Thus, in developed nations, GM crop technology has could revolutionize farming. However, the current GM crop seed varieties are neither affordable nor useful to most of the poorer farmers in the world; hence, their revolutionary impact in the developing world has been limited so far.
Q. 7. Whether IPR are applicable to gene technology?
Ans. Intellectual Property Rights are applicable to the products of transgenic technology i.e. patenting is done. A fundamental challenge in this newest agricultural movement that did not arise during the Green Revolution is the definition and treatment of intellectual property (IP). IP issues are central to the Gene Revolution that can often limit the valuable diffusion of such technology.
Q. 8. What are the possibilities of gene transfer?
Ans. The gene transfer is possible between two totally unrelated organisms or across any species. The gene transfer is possible from animals to plants and vice versa. The Gene Revolution combined with genetic engineering, allows unique trait combinations across species. For example, daffodil and bacterial genes can be introduced into the rice genome so that the rice produces beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.
Q.9. What types of methods are involved in gene technology?
Ans. Highly sophisticated biotechnological approaches are used for development of transgenic plants. The science and technology required to create GM crop seeds are far more complicated than the science and technology used to create Green Revolution agricultural advancements.
Q. 10. What about the transparency of gene technology?
Ans. The information is kept secret by the seed companies responsible for developing the technology. GM seeds are created largely through private enterprises rather than through public-sector efforts.
Q.11. What are benefits of gene technology?
Ans. The gene revolution is expected to bring even greater benefits to the small and marginal farmers than green revolution. The benefits of the current varieties of GM crops include yield increase, reduced agricultural inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers, reduced vulnerability to the vagaries of nature, and improved nutritional content. For the most part, these benefits have been limited to parts of the developed countries to which current GM crop development and marketing have been targeted and also in those countries that have allowed cultivation of such crops.
Q. 12. Whether bio-safety measures are required for gene technology?
Ans. Yes, bio-safety measures are required in case of genetically modified crop plants.
Q. 13. Whether bio-ethical measures are required for gene technology?
Ans. Yes, bio-ethical measures have to be adopted in case of genetically modified crop plants.
Q. 14. Whether organic farming of end product is permitted?
Ans. No, organic farming of genetically modified crop plants is not permitted,
Q.15. What are the end product of gene technology?
Ans. The end product of agricultural biotechnology is a transgenic cultivar.
Q. 16. Whether evolution of super weeds is possible in case of transgenic Plant?
Ans. Evolution of super weeds is possible after out crossing of transgenic plants with wild relatives of cultivated plants.
Q. 17. How much technical skill is required for gene technology?
Ans. High technical skill is required in developing genetically engineered crop plants.
Q. 18. How much initial cost of infra-structure is required for starting transgenic breeding?
Ans. The initial cost of infra-structure required for evolving cultivars through agricultural biotechnology is very high, Costly equipments, glassware and chemicals are required to carry-out research in the biotech laboratory.
Q. 19. How much time is requirement for developing transgenic plants?
Ans. It is a rapid method of crop improvement. The development of new transgenic variety takes 4-5 years as compared to 10-12 years taken by conventional methods of plant breeding.
Q. 20. What types of genes are involved in gene technology?
Ans. Trans genes are involved in the development of transgenic cultivars. In case of green revolution, the high yielding cultivars were developed by using dwarfing genes.
Q. 21. What is the major emphasis in gene technology?
Ans. In the gene revolution, major emphasis has been laid in the development of cultivars resistant to insects and herbicides.
Q. 22. What are advantages of GM technology?
Ans. The cultivation of GM crops has played significant role in improving yield, in some cases food quality and reducing use of pesticides or particularly harmful herbicides. It is expected that GM crops can revolutionize world agriculture, particularly in developing countries. This technology will substantially improve food security, reduce malnutrition, and increase rural income, and in some cases even reduce environmental pollutants.
Q. 23. What criteria are considered important in evaluation of a technology for agricultural revolution?
Ans. Five criteria are considered important in evaluation of a technology for agricultural revolution.
These criteria include:
(i) Benefit to farmers,
(ii) Increase in production,
(iii) Adoption by farmers and acceptance by the consumers,
(iv) Coordination among technology provider, policy makers and users, and
(v) The technology should be affordable by users.
a. The new technology should provide a net benefit to farmers.
b. The technology should substantially improve agricultural production, food nutrition, or both; or substantially decrease necessary inputs such as fertilizer or water.
c. People should be willing to adopt the new technologies, and consumers should accept the products of the technology.
d. There should be cooperation among technology provider, policy makers and users.
e. The technology should be affordable by the users and sustainable without public subsidization.
The GM crops meet all five criteria for an agricultural revolution on regional scale. In the United States, Canada, China, and Argentina for example, genetically modified varieties of soybeans, corn, and cotton now constitute about 30 to 80 percent of total plantings of these crops and are beneficial to the growers.
In other nations, such as India and South Africa, farmers have recently begun to plant GM crops and have made the beginnings of realizing benefits of Gene Revolution. However, the revolution has yet to occur on a global scale.
Q. 24. What is the future of gene technology?
Ans. In future, to achieve agricultural revolution through gene technology, the following points should be given due importance:
i. Affordable Technology:
The new technology should be affordable by the farmers of developing-world. Moreover, the farmers must understand how to use them.
ii. Research by Public Sector:
There is a need for larger investments in research in the public sector. Partnerships between the public and private sectors can result in more efficient production of GM crops that are useful to the developing world and can expand the accessibility of those crops and their associated technologies to developing-world farmers.
iii. Due Importance to Agriculture:
Agricultural development must be given due importance from a policy perspective in both donor and recipient nations. In view of increasing global population, agricultural development is more necessary than ever to eliminate malnutrition and prevent famine, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. GM crops seem to be effective means for addressing these problems. The policymakers should work jointly on such issues.
iv. Proper Regulatory System:
Policymakers in the developing world must set regulatory standards that take into consideration the risks as well as the benefits of foods derived from GM crops. This goal is crucial to the cooperation of the many stakeholders that are affected by GM crops and also for the sustainability of the GM crop movement in the near future.
Without regulations that explicitly take into account potential benefits to both farmers and consumers, those nations that might stand to benefit most from GM crops may be discouraged from allowing them to be plated. Revised regulations on genetically modified crops must accompany widespread collective policy efforts to revitalize agricultural development.
If the GM crops are free of adverse effects on health and environment, they have the potential to provide benefits to farmers and consumers around the globe. Such crops will reduce the use of potentially harmful chemicals or scarce water supplies for agriculture. It can then indeed become a blue “Gene Revolution.”
The effects of GM crops’ on health and environment are uncertain. The cultivation of such crops can have unintended adverse effects on both animal health and the environment.