Prelims 2021

Q. Bollgard I and Bollgard II technologies are mentioned in the context of

a) clonal propagation of crop plants
b) developing genetically modified crop plants
c) production of plant growth substances
d) production of biofertilizers

Correct Answer: b) developing genetically modified crop plants

Question from UPSC Prelims 2021 GS Paper

Explanation : 

Bollgard I and II: Revolutionizing Cotton Agriculture

The Bollgard I and Bollgard II technologies are significant advancements in the field of genetically modified (GM) crop plants, particularly for cotton. Developed by Monsanto, now a part of Bayer Crop Science, these technologies incorporate genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into the cotton genome. The Bt genes are responsible for producing proteins toxic to certain insect pests, like bollworm larvae, which pose a significant threat to cotton crops.

Bollgard I: Introducing Pest Resistance

The introduction of Bollgard I marked a milestone in GM technology by providing cotton plants with resistance to pests such as the tobacco budworm, pink bollworm, and cotton bollworm. However, the reliance on a single Bt gene led to the development of resistance among some insect populations, prompting the need for a more durable solution.

Bollgard II: Enhancing Pest Resistance and Reducing Resistance Development

To address the issue of insect resistance, Bollgard II was developed, featuring two distinct Bt genes. This dual-gene approach significantly improves the plant’s defense mechanisms against pests and reduces the chance of insects developing resistance to the Bt toxins, as the probability of simultaneous resistance to two toxins is considerably lower.

The creation of Bollgard I and Bollgard II exemplifies the potential of genetic engineering to enhance crop plants. By inserting specific genes, scientists can bestow new traits such as pest resistance, which can lead to a reduction in chemical pesticide use, potential cost savings, and increased crop yields.

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