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- The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has approved confined field trials for Pink Bollworm-resistant GM cotton in Hisar, Haryana.
What are GM Crops?
- GM food involves the editing of genes of a crop in such a way that it incorporates beneficial traits from another crop or organism.
- This could mean changing the way the plant grows, or making it resistant to a particular disease.
- Food produced using the edited crop is called GM food. This is done using the tools of genetic engineering.
Read about the pros and cons of GM Crops over here: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/gm-crops-40
- Bt cotton is a genetically modified pest resistant plant cotton variety, which produce an insecticide to combat bollworm.
- Strains of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis produce over 200 different Bt toxins, each harmful to different insects.
- Most notably, Bt toxins are insecticidal to the larvae of moths and butterflies, beetles, cotton bollworms and flies but are harmless to other forms of life.
- The gene coding for Cry group of endotoxin has been inserted into cotton as a transgene, causing it to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues.
Bt Cotton in India
- The GEAC had approved the use of the BT cotton, a genetically modified variety of cotton, in 2002 to combat this pest. It was introduced to India to reduce farmers’ insecticide use.
- Research by University of Manchester shows that the effects of Bt cotton on farmers’ yield vary across Indian states, but most states show a decrease in insecticide use since the introduction of Bt cotton. A reduction in insecticide use may be beneficial for farmers’ health and the environmentby reducing pollutants.
- By 2009, the Pink Bollworm had started to develop a resistance to the protein, necessitating further study into GM cotton.
- Bt cotton has little effect on cotton yield, and although it may have led to an initial reduction in insecticide use, this effect is now diminishing due to insecticide-resistance in insect populations.
- Also, Bt cotton is ineffective against many cotton pests such as plant bugs, stink bugs, and aphids.
The recent nod to Pink Bollworm-Resistant GM Cotton trials
- The new variety's Cry2ai gene, which confers pest resistance on the cotton and is also derived from the bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis.
- The two genes and the proteins they generate do, however, differ from one another. While Cry2Ai targets a wider variety of insects, including some coleopteran (beetle) and dipteran (fly) species, Cry1Ac primarily targets lepidopteran insects (moths and butterflies).
- Pink Ballworm is a significant issue for the cotton industry in India and is regarded as one of the most destructive pests of cotton globally.
- The cotton yield and quality are decreased as a result of the Pink Bollworm larvae feeding on the seeds and fibres found inside cotton bolls.
- Approval for trials from the GEAC, could be a significant step towards combating this destructive pest.
Q) Resistance to insecticides and to Bt toxins in pink bollworm are running havoc on Indian cotton industry. Comment.