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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 23 January 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 23 January 2023


Contents

  1. Collaborations must be “enlivened”  
  2. Genetically Modified Mustard: A Victory for Science and Farmers

Collaborations Must Be “Enlivened”


Context

  • Because the energy sector is a dynamic one, “collaborations,” whether equity-based or involving service providers or technical consultants, are frequent.
  • These partnerships involve organisations, businesses, or governments. However, “implementation” is the key to a successful collaboration.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Infrastructure: Energy

Mains Question

Why is international energy collaboration required? What role can the public and private sectors play in ensuring the success of these collaborations? Discuss. (150 Words)


Collaborations are required due to the following factors

  • Rapidly evolving technology: The energy sector is a rapidly evolving, high technology industry, whether it be for oil and gas, renewable energy, or the newest hydrogen.
  • For instance, digitization is happening quickly, and Indian businesses are quick to adopt it through partnerships.
  • High energy demand: India currently ranks among the top three energy consumers in the world, and its energy sector is expected to expand over the next ten years as a result of its emphasis on domestic energy production, including nuclear, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.
  • Transition to cleaner energy: o Expertise is needed and cooperation is a natural process, whether it be for the transition from a fossil fuel-based environment to a non-fossil environment or producing cleaner energy through fossil fuels. either through consortiums or joint ventures.
  • Ambitious Energy Goals: India has a target for installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 500 GW of “non-fossil energy production capacity” by 2030. The country is also preparing to deploy a significant amount of offshore wind energy blocks over the coming years, with a goal of 37 GW by 2030.

EU-India Clean Energy and Climate Partnership (CECP)

  • CECP, which promotes access to and the adoption of clean energy and climate-friendly technologies, as well as research and the development of novel solutions, was established between the EU and India in 2016.
  • The EU hopes that this partnership will advance its relationship with India in the area of renewable energy while assisting India’s transition to clean energy and ambitious climate mitigation goals.
  • Solar energy, offshore wind energy, the integration of renewable energy and storage, smart grids, biofuels, energy efficiency in buildings, as well as renewable hydrogen, are among the areas of focus of the collaboration.

Where do these partnerships take place?

  • Even though these locations are great for networking, they don’t always lead to a solid relationship.
  • Although many memoranda of understanding are signed, not all of them are carried out. The reason is that execution is based on the company’s strategy or requirements.
  • ONGC has developed and identified areas where cooperation is necessary to reduce costs and boost production. Collaboration is necessary even for novel discoveries.
  • Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and increased oil recovery (IOR) — ONGC has some expertise there and can share knowledge and data; renewable; carbon capture, storage, and sequestration (CCUS); and hydrogen are some areas where the company can explore collaborations. Exploration is one of these areas because ONGC needs to explore quickly and deepwater explorations are reaping good dividends globally.

Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP)

  • These JETPs are an emerging financing cooperation mechanism with the goal of assisting a number of emerging economies that are heavily dependent on coal in making a just energy transition.
  • When South Africa was promised USD 8.5 billion in financing by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union at COP 26 in Glasgow, the first such JETP was created.
  • India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Senegal were among the second group of nations to be named as JETP partners.

Need for digging:

  • Coping with the energy transition: o Collaboration is the accepted norm for coping with the energy transition.
    • Things are changing quickly in Europe, and by 2030, all vehicles will be electric.
    • Today’s most in-demand field for expertise and skill is energy transition.
    • Complex technical systems are used by petrochemical or refinery operations, and international players with access to the technology cooperate. In the West, the energy transition is a very commercial issue.
  • Collaborations between small groups: Establishing a knowledge bank is also essential. Collaborations do not always take place at conferences. Smaller groups or one-on-one meetings can help them to mature.
  • India’s engagement with the West: o During the country’s G20 Presidency this year, India is one of the nations with which the West is attempting to reach an agreement on an energy transition.
  • Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP): The European Commission is committed to cooperating through the G7 to ensure that this model sets a good example for the wider benefit of developing countries seeking coordinated support to implement their own ambitious net-zero and climate resilient plans. The JETP is a priority for the European Commission.

Conclusion

  • The key to ensuring environmental sustainability, economic growth, and energy security is improved energy technology.
    • Implementation is crucial for the success of energy collaborations, and this is only possible with a focused strategy.
    • Although sometimes governments must take the lead, most of the time it is purely commercial – company to company. Therefore, a lot depends on the business strategies.

Genetically Modified Mustard: A Victory for Science and Farmers


Context

The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change recently approved the environmental release of genetically modified (GM) mustard hybrid (DMH 11) based on the recommendations of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, paving the way for commercial use of the first GM food crop (GEAC).

Relevance

GS Paper 3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Mains Question

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified (GM) crops in India. (250 words)


Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

GEAC is a body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change that evaluates proposals relating to the “release” of GM organisms and products (typically considered hazardous) into the environment.

Developing GM Mustard Hybrid DMH 11

  • About hybridisation: It involves crossing two genetically dissimilar plant varieties, which can even be from the same species. The first-generation (F1) offspring of such crosses have higher yields than either parent can provide individually.
  • Difficulty: Because mustard flowers have both female (pistil) and male (stamen) reproductive organs, the plants are largely self-pollinating.
  • New variety: Using genetic modification (GM), scientists at Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) created the hybrid mustard DMH-11, which contains two alien genes isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (‘barnase’ and ‘barstar’ genes).
  • Importance: Mustard varieties in India have a limited genetic base. The barnase-barstar system allows for the creation of hybrids from a broader range of mustards, including those from East Europe, such as ‘Heera’ and ‘Donskaja.’
    • DMH-11 is also said to have yielded a 28% increase over Varuna in contained field trials conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
    • New hybrid GM seeds have the potential to increase mustard yields to 3.0-3.5 tonnes per hectare, up from about 1.3 tonnes currently.

Opposition to granting DMH-11 GEAC clearance

  • Encourage widespread herbicide use: The presence of a ‘bar’ gene makes GM mustard plants resistant to glufosinate ammonium, a weed-killing chemical.
    • Opponents claim that by encouraging the use of chemical herbicides, this will result in the displacement of manual labour engaged in weeding.
  • Endangered biodiversity: The second concern is that GM mustard will endanger or devastate honey bee populations. Mustard flowers provide nectar to honey bees and other pollinator insects.
    • However, based on an examination of scientific evidence available worldwide, it appears unlikely that DMH-11 will have a negative impact on honey bees.
  • Unfounded fears about genetically modified crops
  • Previous reservations and objections: Concerns about GM crops are not new.
    • These sentiments were expressed when India imported dwarf miracle wheat and rice seeds in 1966 to achieve food self-sufficiency through the Green Revolution, as well as when Bt Cotton was released in 2002.
  • Positive experience: The success of Bt cotton in increasing yields and transforming India from an importer to the world’s second largest exporter is well documented.
    • Furthermore, no adverse effects from the consumption of its oil and seed cake fed to cattle have been reported in the last 20 years.

The requirement for GM technology

  • Addressing current challenges: Scientific innovations and their scaling are the best options for addressing today’s issues, as follows:
    • Excessive use of natural resources (soil, water, biodiversity) o Falling factor productivity
    • Importance of achieving sustainable development goals, particularly eradicating poverty and hunger
    • Addressing the negative effects of climate change in a timely manner
  • Global acceptance: Genetically modified maize, soybean, cotton, tomato, and canola are grown all over the world, with approximately 200 million ha currently under GM crop cultivation.
    • These have been grown for many years in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China, in addition to India.
    • For example, canola yields in Canada, China, and Australia are nearly three times higher than in India due to the use of GM hybrid technology.
  • Growing demand: Using similar technology, Australia recently released herbicide-tolerant GM Indian mustard. This is to meet South Asian countries’ growing demand for mustard oil.
  • No health hazards: It has been scientifically proven that consuming refined oil prevents protein from entering the human system. As a result, consuming GM oil is completely safe from a health standpoint.
  • Cost-cutting: To meet the current deficit in edible oils (around 55-60%), India is currently importing 14-14.5 mt, resulting in a record foreign exchange outlay of $18.99 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022.
    • Of this, 2.0-2.5 million tonnes of soybean oil and 1.0-1.5 million tonnes of canola oil are already genetically modified. As a result, we are already consuming GM oil, in addition to the 1.5 million tonnes of GM cotton oil produced domestically.
  • Increasing yields: A major concern among Indian farmers is that mustard yields (an important oilseed crop) are low and have been stagnant for a long time at around 1,260 kg/ha, much lower than the global average of 2,000 kg/ha.
    • Mustard is grown on 6.0-7.0 million hectares, the majority of which are in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Madhya Pradesh.
    • As a result, the government’s decision to allow the production of GM Mustard hybrids will go a long way toward increasing yields while reducing pesticide use.

The way forward

  • Government push: The Department of Agriculture (DoA) and ICAR must move quickly to create an enabling environment for testing the available Hybrid DMH 11 seed in the current rabi season. This must occur on several farmer’s fields in the mustard belt.
    • The government must also encourage public-private partnerships to produce high-quality seeds in order to cover a larger area the following year.
  • Encouraging scientists at ICAR institutes to develop new GM Mustard hybrids on a mission mode is also necessary.
  • New paths: Allowing the production of GM Soybean and GM Maize in the future will also be a positive step, increasing crop productivity and profitability and doubling farmers’ income.

Conclusion

  • A country that imports more than 60% of its edible oil requirements cannot afford to block technology for its farmers indefinitely.
  • The decision to lift the unscientific ban on GM crops reflects the government’s determination to move towards Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • It also addresses our scientific community’s and farmers’ long-awaited desire to reap the benefits of innovative technologies.

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