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First-ever genetically modified rubber p

  Jul 30, 2021

First-ever genetically modified rubber planted in Assam

Q. Why is this in news?
A. A Rubber Board research farm on the outskirts of Guwahati now sports the world’s first genetically modified (GM) rubber plant tailored for the climatic conditions in the Northeast.

Q. What is GM rubber?

  • The GM rubber has additional copies of the gene MnSOD, or manganese-containing superoxide dismutase, inserted in the plant.
  • The plant was developed at the Kerala-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII).
  • It is expected to tide over the severe cold conditions during winter — a major factor affecting the growth of young rubber plants in the region.

Q. Why need GM rubber?


  • Natural rubber is a native of warm humid Amazon forests and is not naturally suited for the colder conditions in the Northeast, which is one of the largest producers of rubber in India.
  • Growth of young rubber plants remains suspended during the winter months, which are also characterized by progressive drying of the soil.
  • This is the reason for the long immaturity period of this crop in the region.

Q. What does MnSOD gene offer?


  • The MnSOD gene has the ability to protect plants from the adverse effects of severe environmental stresses such as cold and drought.
  • Laboratory studies conducted at the RRII showed the GM rubber plants overexpressed the MnSOD gene as expected, offering protection to the cells.
  • The plant is thus expected to establish well and grow fast in the region.
  • There was no risk of genes flowing from the GM rubber into any other native species, a concern often raised by environmental groups against GM plants in general.