Biotechnology encompasses the utilization of living processes, organisms, or systems to create products or technologies aimed at improving human life.

In agriculture, biotechnology holds promise for increasing productivity due to the following reasons:

  • Biotechnology enables the introduction of desirable traits into crops, such as disease resistance and drought tolerance, thereby enhancing crop productivity. For instance, Bt. Cotton has been developed through biotechnology to resist pests.
  • By developing pest-resistant crops, biotechnology reduces reliance on chemical pesticides. Consequently, biotechnologically enhanced food crops can be healthier and free from pesticide residues.
  • Biotechnology has the potential to enhance the nutritional value of food by modifying genes and studying and cloning various crops. An example is Golden Rice, which has been genetically modified to produce beta-carotene, an essential nutrient not typically found in rice.
  • Genetically modified plants exhibit increased efficiency in utilizing soil minerals, leading to improved crop productivity and preventing premature soil fertility depletion.
  • Biotechnology can be effectively utilized to enhance industrial production. This includes the development of tailor-made plants that serve as alternative resources for industries, such as starches, fourth-generation biofuels, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Biotechnology techniques like embryo transfer and cloning have the potential to improve animal breeding and disease management in the agricultural sector.

Despite the various applications of biotechnology in agriculture, its implementation has faced criticism and apprehension due to the following reasons:

  • The adoption of genetically modified crops raises concerns about the monopolization of seed production and distribution, especially when terminal seed technologies are used, resulting in sterile seeds.
  • The potential harmful effects of genetically modified food on human health are a significant cause for concern. Adverse impacts on the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and reproductive system have been associated with genetically modified crops.
  • Negative impacts on non-target organisms and the environment, including soil and water, have been observed due to the expansion of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops. For example, the habitat of monarch butterflies has been significantly affected.
  • Genetic homogeneity resulting from the widespread cultivation of genetically modified crops may increase susceptibility to pests, diseases, and other adverse environmental effects over time. This also poses a threat to the genetic diversity of crops.
  • Genes from genetically modified crops used in trials can transfer to local wild plants, leading to the emergence of herbicide-resistant superweeds. These superweeds pose challenges for farmers and the environment.

To enhance the application of biotechnology in agriculture, the following measures can be taken:

  • Thorough research should be conducted on genetically modified crops to assess their impact on neighboring plants, human health, and the environment. This will help alleviate concerns and ensure safety.
  • Building capacity in terms of skilled human resources and infrastructure, particularly in tier-1 and tier-2 cities, is essential to unlock the potential of biotechnology in the country.
  • Forging strategic partnerships with national and international experts in biotechnology will enable the country to leverage the benefits of the latest developments in the field.
  • The union and state governments should strive to create a robust innovative ecosystem and establish a conducive regulatory environment. Initiatives like the National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2021-25 are steps in the right direction.
  • Small and medium farmers should be provided with support and guidance to facilitate their adoption of new biotechnological interventions.


The application of biotechnology in agriculture has the potential to address challenges arising from population growth, climate change, and the diminishing availability of arable land. However, it is crucial to ensure that its growth is pursued in a manner that prioritizes human and environmental safety.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish February 1, 2024