UPSC 2017 Mains: Editorials Question for Answer Writing Practice – July 07

Today’s important editorials and articles from The Hindu, The Indian Express, LiveMint and other major newspapers for UPSC Mains exam preparation. Also find below some probable questions on the editorials for answer writing practice.

1. GST shows legacy issues make for difficult policy transitions

The recent opposition of textile sector to GST shows that the “legacy issues have an impact on the reforms”-elaborate.

 

2. Should we grow GM crops?

To meet the rising challenges to agriculture and food security the way out is GM crops-critically evaluate.
Some keywords from the editorials for answer writing

Genetically modified crops (GMCsGM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods.

  • This method is aimed to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.
  • Examples in food crops include
    • resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions,
    • reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or
    • improving the nutrient profile of the crop
  • Examples in non-food crops include
    • production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels
    • other industrially useful goods, and
    • for bio-remediation

The U.S. invented GMOs and commercialised them despite serious safety concerns expressed by government scientists.

The Reality of GMO or GM crops

  • genetically modified orgamisms (GMOs) carry risks of ‘unintended’ effects and toxicity, which confront us with a double problem and health impacts become apparent only in the long term, such as cancer.
  • glyphosate – considered the safest herbicide, will be included in a list of chemicals labelled as “cancer-causing” (following the categorisation of glyphosate by the World Health Organization as a “probable carcinogen”)
  • glyphosate is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor; no regulatory agency anywhere regulates for endocrine disruption despite overwhelming evidence from Argentina of horrendous birth defects because of glyphosate used in herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybeans

The Myth

  • The myths that have sustained the propaganda of a safe and highly productive GM crop technology for two decades — that it “will feed the world” — are fast dissolving.
  • The current stable of GMOs comprises just two products, Bt (e.g. Bt cotton) and HT crops (HT mustard), and they account for nearly 99% of GMOs planted worldwide
  • Are GM crops important? Are they needed? Are they safe? And who will benefit? 
  • A major challenge today is to develop low-input, high-output agriculture. This cannot be achieved without technology. 
  • The government must take decisions on GM technologies on the basis of scientific evidence. Once some successful interventions are in the field, the post-truth world that GM-bashers have created will disappear in no time.