According to IMF, GDP is a monetary measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced in a period (quarterly or yearly). Viewed in this context, the improved varieties of crops have substantially contributed to the GDP of the country.
Using mutation (and conventional) breeding, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has developed 42 new varieties of crops. These varieties include oilseeds (groundnut, mustard, soybean and sunflower), pulses (urdbean, mungbean, pigeonpea, cowpea), rice and jute.
Mutation breeding through nuclear radiation is mostly done using gamma rays or other ionizing radiations such as electron beam. The method does not render the irradiated material radioactive; it also does not involve insertion of foreign gene into the plant being improved. Irradiation only increases the rate of mutation inside target cells. Mutation is a natural process and, therefore, acceleration of the process using a radiation source is a widely accepted method of producing variability in the population. Plants showing favourable traits are selected and cultivated, ultimately culminating in the production of new varieties. The plants are also extensively tested for various parameters, including nutritional quality of the food, before they are released. Therefore, there is no health hazard to humans and animals that consume the food.
This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.
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