Shelby Carlson

Jun 30, 2017  |  Today's News |  Biotechnology

Even though India is tasked with feeding the second largest population in the world, they don’t allow genetically modified (GM) food crops. In 2015, the population of India alone was 1.3 billion. By some estimates, this number is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2050. How can a country be expected to feed a population of that size when the land they do have is filled to the brim with people? The current population density of India is 953 people per square mile.

Despite allowing Bt cotton that fights the bollworm, a genetically modified crop in 2002, no GM foods crops have made it into the Indian food supply. This success of Bt cotton allowed the country to soar to number 2 in country production shedding light on the results that could be expected from the implementation of genetically modified crops.

There has been a positive change of the battle for GMOs in India. Recently, a GM mustard plant was found safe for consumption. This is a victory for supporters of implementing GM food crops as a solution to feeding India’s growing population; however, an implementation may not be that simple.

  • Ongoing legal battles between the geneticists designing the GM mustard plant and environmentalist are hindering the progress that can be made. The suit alleges that the public may be being lied to about the effects of the GM mustard.
  • Concerns exist that those who possess the technology would take control of the food supply in India.
  • Additionally, there are public concerns about the safety of GM crops despite the fact no adverse effects of eating GM crops can be found. The World Health Organization agrees with the numerous other organizations that confirm the safety of GMOs.
  • Finally, India’s Supreme Court has to approve of the GM mustard plant before it can go up for sale.

The successful introduction of GM food crops into India’s food supply creates a line of questions that did not before exist. What part of their food supply would India be able to export if they increased yields with GM food crops? What crops could now be grown in India that before could not survive in the conditions that existed? The USDA reports that the India leads the worlds in the export growth rate over the decade. Keep an eye on what India is doing with GM crops and how the impacts corn markets back home. 

Photo credit: The Times of India