Cloning has for long been there in the west in some way or the other whether for humans or for crops. The result has been a large variety of genetically modified foods (GM Foods) which have flooded the Western market over the years. Genetically modified foods are regarded as a potential solution to the world problems by the people who support it. But for many others it is regarded as a threat in many ways. Interestingly many of the world food problems in recent times have been caused due to the Western habit of cutting down crops for producing bio fuels.
Cloning is act of producing a copy of something whether it is a person’s cell that is the genetic DNA or a crop variety. In India, BT Cotton and BT Brinjal are some of the genetic varieties of crops which were introduced. Interestingly these genetic varieties have had a controversial past and have seen protests of every kind from farmers. Monsanto, the organization behind the same has been alleged to be responsible for not bothering about its effects on the society and the farmers in particular.
There have been reports of poor yields, crop diseases, damage of the entire crop harvest and also poor quality of the crop produced. And today these crops haven’t really got the approvals from the various authorities in the country to mass produce the genetically modified foods.
But a new research study by scientists at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology has shown that one can clone seeds to retain its hybrid characteristics across generations. This could also allow the farmer to reuse the seeds over and over again thus saving him the high costs over the years. This kind of cloning normally happens in plant varieties. But scientists have found out that this is possible in seeds by their study on the mustard plant variety.
But then this is all Greek and Latin for the farmers. What is the guarantee that this wouldn’t suffer from the same fate as the genetically modified crop variety? Would the produce of rice, maize etc. be really healthy? Would farmers get a good crop harvest? Would the crops be safe from diseases?
The production of such hybrid seeds would ensure that farmers needn’t buy these seeds again and again thus helping them lower their input costs. The hybrid variety of the crops would be maintained over the years due to the cloning ability. The questions about the kind of harvest, production of the crops as well as healthy nature of the foods will need to be researched for a long time before it can be applied.
But the research needs to be done to save the millions dying of hunger in the country and in the world. What India doesn’t need today is a 2nd Green Revolution which even though increased crop production had still resulted in increased pesticides, chemicals and a lot many other problems as it damaged the food chain in many ways.
Instead a more focused approach to increase crop production which takes into account the well being of the people and farmers is what is required.
Can cloning seeds be the answer for solving India’s food problems?