Impact of Genetically Modified Crops on Productivity: Way Forward for India

  • Saatwik Panigrahi, Dr. Satya Narayan Misra, Sanjaya Kumar Ghadai


There is a tendency in the policy space in India whether to embrace genetically modified crops as a major strategy to improve agricultural productivity. The scientific claims about benefits of GM crops have been challenged by orthodox farming groups, political parties, and strident NGOs. The paper seeks to evaluate the public policy so far and the debate that centres around the issue of genetically modified crops in India and their merit. It argues that the current agricultural public policy has substantially increased the agricultural production in crops like wheat and rice. However, a country like India would need to widen its range of technological foray to more crops. This will, besides ensuring self sufficiency in food production, will bolster India’s foot print in agricultural exports and minimize BOT (Balance of Trade) deficits, particularly vis-a- vis countries like China. The hypotheses that increase in area under GM crops will lead to increase in crops yield has been tested through an inter- country examination of area under GM crops and corresponding yields. Linear regression analysis has been undertaken to determine the co- efficient of correlation, line-of-best fit etc, and the hypotheses is proven. Data regarding Bt cotton in India, GM maize in Portugal, and GM soybean in Brazil have been collected and analyzed to determine the correlation. The paper brings out there is a strong correlation between the area under GM crops and the corresponding yield of the crop. The success of Bt cotton, India’s cotton export market is examined and a trend of increasing exports is found through time-series data, and the potential criticism of Bt cotton is addressed. The export market for soybean in Brazil is analyzed through time-series data to show the spillover benefits of the increasing yield on exports. The market for GM maize in Portugal is analyzed and summarized. The paper delineates a course of interventions that can provide a boost to GM crops. The government has recently taken a number of policy initiatives to usher in market reforms and increasing private sector intervention, like dismantling APMC, repealing ECA, encouraging contract farming. The paper strongly argues that the govt. must take one more bold step to encourage application of GM crops, beyond Bt Cotton.