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June

11

2019

    ENVIRONMENT & ECOLOGY

    Sariska Tiger Reserve

    NEWS: Sariska tiger ST-16 died of heatstroke.
    SOURCE: The Hindu.
    WHY IN NEWS: The male tiger known as ST16, which was found dead in Rajasthan’s Sariska Tiger Reserve.

    Sariska Tiger Reserve is located in Alwar District of Rajasthan in lap of Aravali hills. Sariska Tiger Reserve or Sariska National Park was a hunting reserve area for Alwar state. It got a status of wildlife reserve in year 1955 and in year 1978 it became Sariska Tiger Reserve. It covers area of 866 sqkms. The Wild life 0f Sariska Park includes Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Caracal, Striped Hyena, Golden Jackal, Chital, Sambhar, Blue Bull, Chinkara, Four Horned antelope.

    SCIENCE

    Genetically Modified Or Gm Crops

    NEWS: Ryots sow seeds of defiance.
    SOURCE: The Hindu.
    WHY IN NEWS: Hundreds of farmers joined in, what they called, a ‘civil disobedience’ movement to protest the Centre’s indecisiveness in approving the next generation of genetically modified (GM) cotton.

    Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. More than 10% of the world’s crop lands are planted with GM crops.

    Advantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops

    1. It improves production and raise farmer's income. Indian farmers are still practicing traditional process of seeding and cultivation, which required scientific moves for raising their production. Hence, it is one of the moves to enhance the farm production.

    2. It reduces the use of pesticide and insecticide during farming that might be great moves for the betterment of the food supply.

    3. It can feed a rapidly increasing population because it shows dramatically increased yields.

    4. It can produce more in small area of land.

    5. India introduced Bt cotton seeds in 2002. It has greatly reduced the use of toxic pesticides. Bt cotton produces a common soil bacterium, Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt). It is a natural pest repelling bacteria that is toxic to many worms and pests that can harm the crop but is not hazardous to humans. Bt is widely sprayed on crops by organic farmers as a pesticide. As a result of the adoption of Bt cotton, India is now the largest cotton producer in the world.

    Disadvantages of Genetically Modified or GM Crops

    1. The production imposes high risks to the disruption of ecosystem and biodiversity because the “better” traits produced from engineering genes can result in the favouring of one organism. Hence, it can eventually disrupt the natural process of gene flow.

    2. It increases the cost of cultivation and more inclined towards marketization of farming that work on immoral profits.

    3. The transgenic crops endanger not only farmers but also the trade, and the environment as well.

    4. It is biologically altered. Hence, biotech foods may pose a human health risk.

    5. The excessive production of genetically modified foods will be rendered ineffective over time because the pests that these toxins used to deter might eventually develop resistance towards them.

    The top biotech regulator in India is Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). The committee functions as a statutory body under the Environment Protection Act 1986 of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF).

    Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

    The Committee shall function as a Statutory Body under the Ministry of Environment & Forests for approval of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous living microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle as per the provisions of rules 1989.

    The Committee shall also be responsible for approval of proposal relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials as per the provisions of Rules, 1989.

    The Committee shall be responsible for approval of proposals involving the use of living modified organism falling in the risk category Ill and above in the manufacture/import of recombinant Pharma products or where the end product of the recombinant Pharma products per se is a living modified organism.

    The Committee may co-opt other members/experts to the GEAC in accordance with the provisions of Section 4, para 3 of the Rules, 1989 as necessary.

    The Committee may also appoint subgroups/sub-committees/expert committee to undertake specific activities related to compliance of biosafety.

    One third members of the GEAC will constitute the quorum for convening the meeting.

    The members of the GEAC will be required to sign a ‘Statement of Declaration of Independence’ and ‘Statement of Confidentiality’ (as per enclosed proforma).

    The Committee shall function for a period of three year from the date of issue of this notification.

    With the approval of the Chairman GEAC, if required, representative of other Ministries and other experts may be invited as ‘Special Invitees’ to participate in the meeting of the GEAC depending on the issues to be discussed.