Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
At the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, Imran Siddiqi is a plant geneticist whose research has been on understanding the mechanisms by which genetic information is transmitted from parent to progeny in plants at the time of meiosis and germ cell formation. His work has provided fundamental insights into how clonal seed formation can be achieved, avoiding the variation that normally occurs as a result of the normal process of sexual reproduction. His research has important implications for agriculture as being able to engineer clonal seed formation in crop plants, which can revolutionize plant breeding and agriculture particularly in developing countries. He is a recipient of the Infosys Prize in Life Sciences in 2011, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, 2012. He is a fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (2008) and the Indian National Science Academy. He has served in an advisory capacity for a number of research organizations and is a member of the editorial boards of several leading international journals in plant sciences.
SESSION 2A: Special Lecture
N Sathyamurthy, JNCASR, Bengaluru
GM crops in the Indian context: Looking back, looking forward
The discovery of plant transformation in the early 1980s enabled enormous advances to take place over the last three decades in our understanding of plant biology at the molecular level. It has also led to major application in agricultural biotechnology through development of genetically modified (GM) crops carrying genes from other species (transgenics) that target agricultural issues such as pests and weeds. Several of these GM crops have been widely deployed and enjoyed a high degree of commercial success, but have also been associated with medium to long term ecological, environmental, and stakeholder costs which have been high in several cases. The views on GM technology cover a wide spectrum from GM being considered essential for increasing agricultural productivity to strong opposition and questioning of GM approaches on being able to deliver on safe and sustainable agriculture that takes small farmer’s interests into account. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that the consequences of GM crops are determined not just by the technology itself but the context and modalities of its deployment, including socioeconomic factors and policy environments. GM technologies are rapidly evolving and it is now necessary to distinguish between GM and transgenics. The presentation will cover background information on GM crop technology, a discussion of GM crop usage in the Indian context, and possible future scenarios.