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WHAT ARE GM CROPS? When a gene from one organism is purposely moved to improve or change another organism in a laboratory, the result is a genetically modified organism (GMO). There are different ways of moving genes to produce desirable traits. When this is done to produce food crops we obtain genetically modified crops. SO, IS INDIA READY FOR ITS FIRST GM CROP? The biotech regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has given clearance to the commercial cultivation of GM mustard in the country. The commercial cultivation of the GM seed can begin once the regulator's clearance gets the nod from Union Environment Minister, Anil Dave. WHO IS BEHIND GM MUSTARD? The GM mustard was developed by Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) under the leadership of Deepak Pental, a former vice-chancellor of the university and a known genetic scientist. WHO’S RESISTING? The decision of the GEAC was, however, vehemently opposed by environmentalists, anti-GM groups and even the RSS-linked economic policy think-tank Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM). WHY? According to them allowing transgenic mustard will open the flood gates for dozens of other similar crops and jeopardise farmer livelihoods. Also, chemical usage in farming subsequently results in higher toxic residues in food. This fatally affects the consumers. ARE THERE ANY OTHER GM PLANTS? Apart from an unsuccessful venture with Bt Brinjal, the only other crop that the Indian Government permitted was GM cotton

Stingless bees to the rescue

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What is new? Kerala will host an Indo-Australian collaborative research project on deploying stingless bee, Tetragonula iridipennis, as alternative pollinators to increase the agricultural yield of fruits and vegetables. The $7 million project will be carried out by Western Sydney University, Australia, Indian Council of Agriculture Research and the honeybee research centre at the Kerala Agricultural University's Vellayani campus.     Why is this important? Leading pollination scientists are looking for alternative pollinators to traditional honey bees (Apis genus), which had for ages served as world's leading pollinators, responsible for over one-third of the global food supply. A change was necessitated as the population of honey bees were plummeting in many parts of the world     What are the chances of success? AICRP's study had found that there was 20-25% yield increase in cucumber and bitter gourd when stingless bees acted as pollinators. Stingless bees have increased effectiveness as pollinators since they can enter smaller flowers. studies by KAU had found that stingless bees visit 142 crops, including fruits and vegetables like drumstick, cardamom, cashew etc.     What caused the damage? Colony collapse disorder (CCD) as a result of climate change and the widespread use of popular neonicotinoid pesticides have caused enormous numbers of the bees around the world to die, imperiling the world's food supply. CCD has wiped off a substantial chunk of honey bee colonies in Europe and America.     Something about the new breed Found around the world, the stingless honey bee's Tetragonula variant, native to the southwest Indian state of Kerala, is smaller than the traditional honey bee (Apis genus) known to Westerners. Stingless bees have increased effectiveness as pollinators since they can enter smaller flowers     Why Kerala of all the places? Kerala was selected due to a thriving stingless beekeeping sector with over 20,000 farmers engaged in the field. Stingless beekeeping has witnessed increased interest in the state over the decade after KAU and ICAR developed appropriate technologies to domesticate, hive and standardize the management of bees under former KAU dean S Devanesan.

Grazpp Celebrates World Water Day

  A case study done in India and three other countries says there will be no drinking water by 2040 if consumption of water continues at the current pace. There is a lot of wastage of usable water. We lose 65% rainwater as it runoff into the sea. The leakage and inefficiencies in the water system waste nearly 50% of usable water. 90 % of waste water discharged in rivers fails to meet environmental norms.   What are we doing to preserve water? The UN declared 22 March as International World Water Day in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Many of the water conservation project taken up around the world include: Rain water harvesting to recharge ground water. Recycling of wastewater through purification at a water treatment plant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that metering of water alone can reduce consumption by 20 to 40 percent.   How is it in India?   As per the Ministry of Water Resources, India has 18% of world's population but has only 4% of total usable water resources. In India, agriculture sector is the biggest user of water followed by domestic sector and industrial sector. Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on the climate of India: a favourable southwest summer monsoon is critical in securing water for irrigating Indian crops. In some parts of India, the failure of the monsoons result in water shortages, resulting in below-average crop yields especially in southern and eastern Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat etc   Anything for those at home? • Low-flush toilets and composting       toilets: These have a dramatic             impact in the developed world, as       conventional Western toilets use         large volumes of water • Low flow taps in wash basins. • Low-flow shower heads sometimes    called energy-efficient shower            heads as they also use less energy. Grazpp The Fact The trending theme of World Water Day for this year is “Why waste water?”

Whats so special about honey ?

The only food item which never rots Honey has been called the only food that truly lasts forever. How natural honey is made? The extracted nectar from flowers mixes with enzymes inside the bees. It will change the nectar’s composition and breaks it down into simple sugars that are deposited into honeycombs. Fanning action from the bees’ wings and the enzymes from their stomachs creates honey, a liquid that is both highly acidic and low in moisture why honey never rots? A slew of factors—its acidity, its lack of water and the presence of hydrogen peroxide work in perfect harmony, allowing honey to last long. If the heated and strained honey is sealed properly, moisture cannot be absorbed, and the honey will last forever. How is honey graded? Honey is graded by colour by comparing with clear, golden amber honey often available at a higher retail price. Honey flavor will vary based on the types of flower from which the nectar was harvested.   Health benefits of honey Honey is a blend of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that have antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. Honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in cough medications, to soothe a cough. Honey is used as an ingredient in the medicines of sleeping difficulties. The possible health benefits of consuming honey have been documented in early Greek, Roman, Vedic, and Islamic texts and the healing qualities of honey were referred to by philosophers and scientists all the way back to ancient times, such as Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) and Aristoxenus (320 BC). Interesting facts The oldest jar of the sweet honey ever found is believed to be 5500 years old. Modern archeologists, excavating ancient Egyptian tombs, have often found something unexpected amongst the tombs’ artifacts: pots of honey, above five thousand years old, and yet still preserved.