India developing GMO drought tolerant sugarcane in face of water shortages

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

. . . Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – is joining hands with the former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar-led Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), Pune, to develop drought tolerant genetically modified (GM) sugarcane that will need less water for cultivation. The water guzzling sugarcane crop is blamed for worsening the acute water shortage in parched areas of Maharastra.

The move is significant, considering the government’s present stand of treading the path of genetically engineered crop cautiously amid strong opposition by anti-GM crop environmentalists and RSS-linked outfit Swadeshi Jagran Manch SJM).

“It will, however, be a long-term project. Developing drought tolerant (less water consuming) GM sugarcane is not an end in itself. We know how difficult it is in India to go for commercial release of any transgenic crop”, said an ICAR scientist.

. . . [S]ources claimed that even positive reports based on field trial and bio-safety examinations of the crop could not get this transgenic variety. . .a green signal. But the effects of back to back droughts, mounting rural distress and the sheer economic and ecological costs of water intense crops might make planners more keen to develop GM sugarcane. Authorities hope that once the benefits of the new crop become evident, its acceptance will grow.

Read full, original post: ICAR looks at GM sugarcane option to ease water woes

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