Agrobiotechnology
Agriculture | Environment

Agrobiotechnology can be A Success Mantra or Menace?

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Why Agrobiotechnology in India

With the mission of transforming barren lands into a green paradise through agriculture biotechnology, India is in its race for a second green revolution. Sustainability and environmental conservation have become a concern all over India. India applies biotechnology in the agricultural sector as it is necessary to sustain the balance between food production and the increasing demand of the population. However, if agrobiotechnology can be a success mantra or menace for India is uncertain.

What is Agro Biotechnology?

Generally, biotechnology implies the application of various scientific techniques for the transformation and enhancement of species like plants, animals, and microorganisms that are important to our economy. Agricultural biotechnology is that part of biotechnology, which involves the application of biotechnology to agriculture. In agrobiotechnology, we apply scientific techniques like genetic engineering, tissue culture, vaccines, and molecular breeding to improve the productivity of crops.

History of Agrobiotechnology

For a long period, farmers used selective breeding as a technique to control plants and animals in order to produce and develop desired traits. With further developments, the 20th century witnessed a big change as we were able to categorize traits as pest-resistant, drought-resistant, and herbicide-resistant. Later on, in 1990, the first food product was produced through plant biotechnology. The growth of agricultural biotechnology was so rapid that by 2003, 85% of farmers in India were using agrobiotechnology.

Pros

  • Agrobiotechnology increases the potential sources from which desirable traits can be obtained.
  • It helps in developing new strains of plants that give high yields with few inputs.
  • Provide products that are nutrient-rich and long-lasting.
  • Agrobiotechnology can enhance the productivity of crops and thereby satisfy our nutrition needs.
  • Agrobiotechnology encourages sustainable farming practice, thereby reduces the environmental impact of agriculture.

Cons

  • The cost-effective pesticides leave residues that stay on the soil and sweep into groundwater.
  • Genetically modified crops may transfer gentility into natural, unmodified plants. 
  • The long term biological viability of genetically modified crops is still a question. 
  • Long term use of agro-biotechnology could affect biodiversity.
  • There is a chance that modified crops would dominate and marginalize other local varieties, which could even lead to the extinction of those varieties. Biodiversity loss can make our ecosystem unstable, thereby putting food security at risk.
Agrobiotechnology can bring in short term benefits only
Agrobiotechnology can bring in short term benefits. In the long term, this will have negative effects on the environment and biodiversity

Developments in Agrobiotechnology

Agrobiotechnology has led to the development of drought-resistant crops. By changing the genes, crops can now grow in adverse conditions and suit different types of soil. A committee under the Union Government’s Department of Biotechnology submitted a document titled ‘Agriculture Biotechnology for Human Warfare’ talked about how agro-biotechnology facilitates in injecting new life in India’s farms. In the document, they emphasize a strong framework for the advancement and marketability of agrobiotech products. The committee has provided a complete action plan on the implementation of advanced agro biotech research for agricultural development in the country. It also proposes a mission on increasing farmers’ income by 2022, in this way.

Future of Agrobiotechnology

Biotechnology can be a useful tool in sectors such as agriculture, horticulture, forestry, fisheries, and food production. A significant number of investigations performed on agricultural biotechnology have proved an increase in productivity of crops with high nutritious value. In the future, the application of agrobiotechnology can improve the quality of life with new strains of plants that have the potential to give higher yields with fewer inputs. “If agriculture is to continue to feed the world, it needs to become more like manufacturing”. Agrobiotechnology follows this principle. Some people think that India must look into the possibility of alternatives like genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to achieve the best out of agrobiotechnology.

Why we think that Agrobiotechnology can be Menace

We, SimplyRaw understand that agrobiotechnology can give us only short term productivity at the cost of our natural diversity. For a country like India with primary occupation as agricultural, agrobiotechnology may not be that beneficial. It can harm the ecological stability. For instance, Kerala, the southern state, has been under the threat of natural calamities like floods for the last two years.

Geologists and Environmentalists identify environmental degradation as the primary reason for this. We had suggested in an earlier study that the once accepted Kerala model development should be substituted with the Japanese model of development where the primary focus will be environmental conservation.

This can be the case of any Indian state. We believe that India should follow a farming method that can protect the environment. Organic or Sustainable farming will be the aptest option for any nation today. Both follow a farming method, using organic fertilizers like animal matter and vegetable matter instead of scientific fertilizers that can damage the soil and biodiversity. Scientific farming can affect the natural resistant property of crops, which can lead to the extinction of many varieties. The diversity of plants and other species is the basis of our ecosystem. In that context, Agrobiotechnology can be a menace to our country rather than a success mantra.

Reference

Kumar, Vikas & Paulose, Lishamol. (2016). Agricultural Biotechnology: Current Status and Future Prospects. Retrieved from October 26, 2019 http://www.researchgate.net/publication/287994670_Agricultural_Biotechnology_current_status_and_future_prospects/citation/download

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