The Indian population is likely to reach 135 crore by 2020 for which about 320 million tones of food grains are required. India will be required to produce an additional 5-6 million tones of food grains annually. But the Green Revolution has started waning, making it difficult to obtain the required incremental food production. In the 21st century, ecological access to food seems to be the biggest challenge because of the damage being done to land, flora and the atmosphere. What we need is a new ‘Gene Revolution’ environmentally sustainable as well as yield-increasing. It should aim to reap benefits from genetic revolution based on cutting-edge works associated with genetic mapping, molecular markers, biotechnology, transformation techniques, plant tissue culture. Biotechnology is the tool that will allow us to produce more food on less land, with reduced depletion and damage to water resources and biodiversity. This technology is not a substitute for conventional plant breeding methods. Rather, it is a supplementary tool for producing tailor-made genetically modified or transgenic crops.
There are many advantages to genetically modified crops over traditional and crossbred crops. Insertion of a carefully selected gene into a plant is safer than introducing thousands of genes at once, as commonly occurs during conventional crossbreeding. Traditional plant-breeding techniques can be very time-consuming. It sometimes takes up to 15 years or more before a new plant variety reaches the market. Furthermore, in traditional breeding, generally only closely related plant species can be used in cross breeding for the development of new varieties and hybrids. But genetic engineering enable scientists to breach the reproductive barriers between species. Through the use of Genetic Engineering technology genes from one plant, animal or microorganisms can be incorporated into an unrelated species, thus increasing the range of traits available for developing new plants.