Guwahati, June 23 (NKTV): In a proud moment for Assam, the world’s first genetically modified (GM) rubber plant was planted on the outskirts of Guwahati by the Chairman and Executive Director of the Rubber Board KN Raghavan on Tuesday. Planted at Sarutari Research Farm, the plant was developed at the Kerala-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII).
Raghavan said that the genetically modified rubber plant is the first of its kind developed and exclusively for this region. “It is expected to grow well under the climatic conditions of the mountainous northeastern region” Raghavan added.
The Chairman said that the GM rubber plant would be a game-changer in natural rubber cultivation in India, with additional copies of the gene MnSOD (manganese-containing superoxide dismutase) inserted in it.
“The GM rubber plant is expected to tide over the severe cold conditions during winter, which is a major factor affecting the growth of young rubber plants. Natural rubber is a native of warm humid Amazon forests and it is not naturally suited for the cold conditions in this part of the country” he said.
He further explained that the crop is presently planted on experimental level following all mandatory bio-safety measures applicable to field trials involving GM crops.
A senior Rubber Board official said that seven northeastern states, especially Tripura and Assam, are cultivating rubber in 1,90,000 hectares of land annually producing 1,11,700 tonne natural rubber.