Punjab's mustard oil would beat rapeseed oil (commonly called kanola oil), currently imported from Canada in huge quantities and used as edible oil.
The Centre for Genetic Manipulations of Crop Plants, University of Delhi, has developed a variety of mustard which is healthier than kanola oil.
Centre director Dr Deepak Pental said the university had developed a variety by genetically modifying mustard seed and the modified variety had a high omega-13 content. Dr Pental was part of discussions on biotechnology in agriculture on the second day of the four-day agriculture summit.
He spoke on the topic, 'Genetic Modification in Crops, Its Costs and Benefits'. He said the centre these days was working on improving the yield of the variety.
He said modifying plant varieties is an old practice which began in 1900. Japan and European countries might not be in favour of genetically modified varieties but countries with high population had to adopt this, he added.
Dr Thomas Lumpkin, director general, International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre, Mexico, said agro biotechnologists would have to focus on developing pest- and disease-resistant crops with weed management, drought tolerance having reduced demand for fertilisers, keeping in view the increased climatic change in the world besides explosion of population due to doubling of life expectancy.
Sharing a similar view, joint director, research, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Dr KV Prabhu, said though foodgrain production had increased from 15 MT to 257 MT from 1975 to 2012, there was not the expected decrease in poverty as farmers got higher real income with reduced prices.
Painting a grim picture for India, Dr Prabhu said India on date had 17% of world's human and 11% livestock population. He said India would have to focus on low water-consuming highly productive crops as the country with one-fifth of the world's population had only 4.2% of world's water. He said the picture got grimmer with the country having only 2.4% of the world's area of which only 40% area was net irrigated area.
Dwelling on the challenges for the second green revolution, the scientists said the challenges included meeting the demand for foodgrains, breaking yield barrier, ensuring nutritional security, increasing factor productivity, improving soil health and water table, managing incidence of disease and pests and climate change -- the biggest threat.
On this occasion, progressive farmers Gurpreet Singh Sekhon and KVS Sidhu shared their experiences.