The workshop on the “GM crops and their derivatives for the aqua sector: Opportunities and way forward” was jointly organized by the ICAR-Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) and  the Biotech Consortium Pvt. Ltd (BCIL), on 25 July  2023 at ICAR-CIBA, Chennai. The main objective of this workshop was to create awareness and exploring market potential for the use of GM ingredients in aqua feed in the challenging scenario of cost-effectiveness of feeds for aquaculture. This program was attended by more than 60 participants from various stakeholders comprising scientists and academician from research institutes, fee milers, nutritionists, formulators, state fisheries department. Dr. K. Ambasankar, Head Nutrition and Genetics and Biotechnology welcomed the gathering. Dr. Kuldeep K. Lal, Director, CIBA, delivered the opening address wherein he emphasized the importance of this workshop and the need for diversified ingredients in the aqua-feed sector where GM crops have a significant role to play. He further stressed that in aquaculture operations, feed constitutes 60 percent of total input cost, and serious efforts may be made towards use of sustainable ingredients. There is a need to bring out scientific basis of GM crops with respect to metabolism in biological systems to address certain unfounded apprehensions regarding use of GM crop materials.

Dr. Vibha Ahuja, Chief General Manager, BCIL spoke on the Use of GM crops and derivatives: safety and nutritional aspects, wherein she elaborated the safety and regulatory assessment of GM crops for use as animal feed with a focus on the aquaculture sector. She explained the concerns, safety aspects, and prospects associated with using GM crops as feed ingredients in aquaculture. She further underscored the need to bust the common myths associated with GM crops and opined that with a regulatory framework and scientific expertise.

Mr. Palanisamy Ravi, Vice President, The Waterbase Limited, delivered a talk on “Fostering the aquaculture industry: Managing the demands and accessibility of feeds”. Mr. Raghavan Sampathkumar, Executive Director, Federation of seed industry of India spoke about implementing biotech interventions for crop improvement: Status and challenges. The other talks on Global feed availability and role of GM crops  and  feed quality issues in Indian Aqua sector  were delivered by Mr. Amit Sachdev of US Grain council and Mr. Jaison John of US Soybean export council respectively

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion involving industry experts and academician and policy makers. Dr. P. Krishnaiah, signified the need for reduced cost of feed for sustainability and to help the small and medium farmers requirement of affordable feed. The discussions clearly debunked the myths about the GM crops usage and highlighted the importance of use of GM crop-based ingredients for consistent quality and price with a aim of sustainability. Dr. J. Syama Dayal, Principal Scientist, CIBA proposed vote of thanks.

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