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Post at: Aug 12 2021

First GM Rubber Plant in Assam

Recent Context

  • The world’s first genetically modified (GM) rubber sapling was planted on June 22, 2021 in Sarutari village of Kamrup district, Assam.
  • The plant was developed at the Kerala-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII), which functions under Rubber Board.

Background

  • GM Rubber is the second GM crop after Bt. Cotton for which field trial has started. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, under the Ministry of Environment gave permission in 2010 for field trials. After several objections, the board (GEAC) got GEAC nod for trial in September 2020.

About GM Rubber

  • GM Rubber (Havea brasiliensis) developed by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has additional copies of gene MnSOD (Manganese-containing superoxide dismutase).
  • MnSOD makes the plant resistant to reduced moisture or drought, low and high temperatures as well as high light intensity.
  • GM Rubber plant is expected to establish well and grow fast in the North-East region of India.
  • As per Rubber Research Institute of India RRII studies, there is no risk of genes flowing from the GM rubber into any other native species, as claimed by environmentalist.
  • GM Rubber will be replacing Natural Rubber in the North-East region of India, because the latter is a native of warm humid Amazon forests and is not naturally suited to grow in the colder conditions of this region.

Rubber Production in India

  • The first rubber plantation in India was established by the British Government in 1902, on the banks of the river Periyar in Kerala.
  • India, at present, is the 6th largest producer of Natural Rubber in the world. The total production of National Rubber (NR) in 2018-19 was provisionally estimated at 6,48,000 tonnes.
  • Kerala is the largest producer among all states/UTs in India with more than 90% of the total production, followed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Global Scenario

  • The major producers of NR globally are: Thailand > Indonesia > Vietnam > Cote d’ Iroire > China > India.
  • The major consumers of NR globally are:  China > India > USA > Thailand > Japan > Indonesia > Malaysia.
  • During 2020 world production of NR is around 13.008 million tonnes.
  • During 2020 world consumption of NR is around 12.71 million tonnes.

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Way Forward:

Rubber industry possess a lot of potential for growth in India because the per capita consumption of the rubber is very low. It is essential to address the challenges of the industry by implementing the National Rubber Policy through synergy with various Ministries/Departments and in unison with concerned state governments.

@  Abhay Panday

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