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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 16 September 2023

CONTENTS:

1. G20 Delhi Summit charts new course for Global South

2. A GM crop decision that cuts the mustard


G20 Delhi Summit Charts New Course for Global South


Context:

 In an era marked by heightened geopolitical tensions stemming from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the G20 Summit in Delhi stands out as a historic event. It not only succeeded in uniting the world’s most influential nations regarding this conflict but also in shaping a novel discourse and approach that highlights the issues facing the Global South. The New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, embraced during the Summit, represents a significant departure in redefining the global economic framework to give precedence to the interests of underprivileged and developing nations.

Relevance:

GS2-

  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

Mains Question:

The recent New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration symbolises unparalleled global consensus. Examine. (10 marks, 150 words).

Milestone achievements @ G20 Summit:

Stressed on less-talked about but significant issuesRevamping institutions like the World Bank, resolving debt issues for countries like Zambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Sri Lanka, and providing additional financing to assist vulnerable nations in addressing the challenges of climate change took the G20 Summit beyond the Western Bloc’s usual concerns.  
Inclusion of the 55-member African Union in the G20in which the Indian leader played a direct role, as demonstrated by the atmosphere at Bharat Mandapam, the Summit’s venue.  
The launch of the India-Middle East-Europe connectivity corridorwhich represents a significant effort to facilitate trade among India, the Middle East, and Europe through an extensive network of railway tracks and shipping routes. It offers an alternative route to the Suez Canal and could deliver substantial strategic and economic advantages to partner nations. Importantly, it is positioned as a counterbalance to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA)The GBA, comprising more than 30 countries and international institutions, is dedicated to promoting the global development and utilization of sustainable biofuels. It will provide capacity-building activities across the biofuel value chain, connecting technology providers with end-users, and aiding industries, countries, ecosystem players, and key stakeholders in addressing demand and supply challenges.

Conclusion:

Indian negotiators successfully avoided entangling the Delhi Declaration in superpower conflicts. As Indian Sherpa, succinctly put it, the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, comprising 83 paragraphs and characterized by unanimous agreement without any dissension, footnotes, or chair summaries, represents an exceptional global consensus. In particular, when it comes to the Ukraine conflict, the negotiators skillfully secured Russia and China’s concurrence on general references to the war while simultaneously persuading Western nations not to directly mention Russia.


A GM Crop Decision That Cuts the Mustard


Context:

Utilizing science-based technologies, like genetic engineering for the creation of genetically modified (GM) crops, alongside traditional breeding techniques, has become an indispensable requirement. This is essential to confront the increasing and intricate task of attaining worldwide food and nutritional security in the face of rapidly changing climatic conditions.

Relevance:

  • GS2-Health
  • GS3-Food Security

Mains Question:

What is the status of GM crops globally? Can GM Mustard pave a new path for India’s growth in the edible oil sector? Analyse. (15 marks, 250 words).

Status of GM Crops:

  • According to a 2020 report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA), a total of 72 countries have embraced genetically modified (GM) crops, both for human consumption and as animal feed, as well as for commercial cultivation.
  • Notably, 56% of the global GM crop area is found in developing countries, compared to 44% in industrialized nations.
  •  GM crops have positively impacted over 1.95 billion people across five countries—Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, and the United States—equivalent to 26% of the current global population of 7.6 billion.
  • Bt cotton, the first GM crop to be commercialized in India over two decades ago, has been regarded as a significant success story, delivering economic benefits to farmers and the nation as a whole.
  • On a global scale, genetic modification has extended beyond the four major crops—maize, soybean, cotton, and canola—to encompass other economically significant food crops, targeting a range of traits such as resistance to insects and herbicides, resilience to changing climates, and improved nutritional quality.
  • The economic gains generated by GM crops globally from 1996 to 2018 amounted to an impressive $224.9 billion, benefiting more than 16 million farmers, with 95% of them hailing from developing nations.
  • Furthermore, GM food crops have demonstrated their biosafety over the past 25 years since their initial adoption in 1996.

Necessity of GM Crops:

  • As per the 2019 Global Food Security and Nutrition Report, achieving the ‘Zero Hunger’ goal by 2030 is proving to be a challenging endeavor.
  • The focus should be on expediting progress in genetic crop enhancement. To bolster food production and achieve self-sufficiency, we require superior crop varieties and hybrids that deliver increased yields and adaptability to various environments while demanding fewer natural resources.
  • The Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s substantially increased food production, from a meager 50 million tonnes in 1950-51 to over 300 million tonnes in 2020-21. Nevertheless, the development of new biotech/GM crops with enhanced traits is essential to address climate change and produce nutrient-rich food.

GM Mustard:

  • Extensive research has been conducted at University of Delhi South Campus, utilizing genetic engineering to develop a genetically modified (GM) mustard hybrid known as DMH11.
  • This hybrid boasts greater vigor and yield potential, which promises to not only boost domestic edible oil production but also augment farmers’ incomes.
  • The GM mustard hybrid is built upon the barnase/barstar system, a mechanism that involves rendering one parent plant male-sterile while restoring fertility in its offspring.
  • Additionally, a herbicide tolerance gene has been incorporated as a selection marker during the development of GM mustard.
  • Although the use of herbicides in herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops offers advantages such as conserving soil moisture and nutrients, as well as effective weed control, the primary function of the herbicide tolerance gene in GM mustard is to identify genetically modified lines and facilitate the production of hybrid seeds.
  • India is grappling with a significant shortfall in edible oil production, with 60% of its demand being met through imports.
  • Mustard, a crucial crop for edible oil in India, exhibits a notably low per-hectare yield compared to the global average. Consequently, enhancing mustard productivity in the country holds paramount importance for the economic well-being of farmers and achieving self-sufficiency in edible oil production.
  • On October 25, 2022, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change of the Government of India made a significant decision by granting approval for the cultivation of DMH11 and its parent line.
  •  This decision marks a pivotal moment in advancing genetic engineering research within the country, opening the door to the development of new crop varieties with enhanced characteristics.
  • This development promises several advantages for farmers, including higher yields per hectare and increased income.

Conclusion:

India’s annual consumption of edible oils stands at approximately 25 million tonnes, while the domestic production of mustard oil reached around 8.5 million tonnes in the year 2020-21. The country’s edible oil imports amounted to roughly 13 million tonnes, with a value of ₹1.17 lakh crore. Cultivating these domestically developed GM mustard hybrids has the potential to boost farmers’ income, alleviate the burden of edible oil imports, and contribute to much-needed self-reliance in edible oil production. The environmental release of DMH11 marks the dawn of a new era in self-sufficiency and sustainability in agriculture. The demand for more improved GM food crops remains crucial to enhancing the profitability of Indian farmers.


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