[Editor's note: Rajeev Varshney is Research Program Director for Genetic Gains, at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India. He has a PhD in Agricultural Botany (Molecular Biology) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, India.]
I feel there are a range of biotechnological approaches, including both traditional ones like selective breeding and fermentation techniques, and modern ones such as genomics, molecular breeding and genetic engineering, that can contribute towards achieving food and nutrition security.
[I]n some cases, the available options for improving crops are only genetically modified (GM) crops. For instance, in the case of insect resistance in chickpea, pigeon pea, brinjal [eggplant] and cotton, we need to embrace GM technologies, as enough amount of natural variation is not present for resistance. We have already seen the success of Bt cotton in our country, as India from being an importer a few years ago has now become a major exporter (Status Paper of Indian Cotton—National Food Security Mission, 2017). The other potential GM crop to help the farming community is GM mustard.
We have to bear in mind that any technology has seen reluctance in acceptance when initially introduced, but the entire world today has already seen the impact of technology in day-to-day life. Similar is the case with biotechnology crops as well. Given the current situation of feeding the world we need to produce more with limited available natural resources (land, water etc).
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