Indian Institute of Spices Research

Parliament Questions
Biotechnology Related
Indian Institute of Spices Research
1) Funds earmarked for Biotechnology research during 10th Plan
Ans) No separate fund was allotted for biotechnology research to IISR, Calicut during Tenth Plan period. Under equipments, an amount of Rs.4.75 lakhs has been sanctioned for Biotechnology.
Two Scientists are working in Spices Biotechnology. Their establishment charges is Rs. 29,67,200/- (approx.).
Besides, there are seven schemes under DBT to the tune of Rs.217.37 lakhs rupees allotted to IISR Calicut during Tenth Plan.
2) Whether the implementation of the European retain chain standards in horticulture farms in the country is likely to keen growers off transgenic crops
Ans) In spice crops we are not anyway near to providing any transgenic variety. Further, European union strictly objects import of transgenic spice crops.  
Whether a set of standards called Europgap clearly specifies that planting of any genetically modified crop should be in accordance with the regulations in vogue in Europe  
Ans) In the light of the answer given for Qn.1, it is not applicable here.  
If so, whether it is necessary if the country has to boost its exports of Horticulture produce to Europe absolute adherence to Eurepgap standards is necessary  
Ans) Since we are no way near producing transgenic spices, this is also not applicable  
If so whether any awareness programme has been launched in various states, in this regard: and  
Ans) Does not arise  
If so, the details thereof?  
Ans) Does not arise  
3) Details of funds earmarked for Biotechnology research during X Plan at Indian Institute of Spices Research , Calicut
i) No separate fund was allotted for biotechnology research to IISR, Calicut during Xth Plan period.
ii) Under equipment, an amount of Rs. 4.75 lakhs has been sanctioned for Biotechnology
iii) Two scientists are workin in Spices Biotechnology. Their establishment charges is Rs. 29,67,200/- (approx.)
iv) Besides, there are seven schemes under DBT to the tune of Rs. 217.37 lakhs rupees allotted to IISR, Calicut during Tenth Plan.
4) Whether because of the inherent instability of allen genes (transgenes) from unrelated organisms inserted into genotypes of GM crop varieties, the likelihood of exchange of genes between GM crop species and their wild relateives (horizontal gene transfer) is greatly enhanced?
Ans) The likelihood of exchange of genes between genetically modified crops and their wild relatives cannot be considered to be enhanced because the GM crops are released only after large scale field evaluation and clearance from the Biosafety Committees / Department of Biotechnology. The likelihood of gene flow through pollen drift will depend on specific crop. Crops that are open pollinated through wind like maize are more likely to hybridise than self pollinated crops like soybean. Besides the chances of presence of wild relatives of crop plants in the vicinity of cultivated crops is generally not very common. However, this is one of the major studies on gene flow from the GMO's to their relatives, being attempted to by Biotechnologists world over. There are very strict Biosafety relating procedures specified by Ministry of Environment and Department of Biotechnology. The transfer through pollen grains to wild / cultivated relatives is possible, only if pollination occurs through insect, wind.  
Also whether the behaviour of transgenes and the functions of transgenic products are uncertain in the host organism, and many disrupt its physoplogical and ecological functions?  
Ans) The instability of GMO after being introduced to the commercial cultivation can not be generated because they are subjected to large scale evaluation for the stability of the introduced genes.  
If so, please state whether such gene exchanges may jeopardize the existing crop genetic diversity to an unpredictable extent?  
Ans) It is true a study carried out in USA as reported in PNAS that creeping bend grass (Agrostis stonifera) has crossed with its wild relative, A. giagantia. This is because this grass is found as a weed in drainages, wet lands and meadows.  
If so please state whether the corporates propaganda, upholding GM crops as the harbinger of a second Green Revolution with a big promise of solving world hunger and malnutrition is parahold imagination?  
Ans) The propaganda by corporates cannot be accepted in toto but biotechnology tools including GM by judicious application could definitely be a part of second Green Revolution. Extreme care is being taken by all Scientific Organizations through Institute Biosafety Committees, monitored by Department of Biotechnology.  
5) Whether Government is considering transgenics as an important area for future development of agriculture
Ans) Yes  
If so, what are the crops in which research is being conducted  
Ans) Black Pepper  
If so, the amount earmarked for the transgenic research  
Ans) Rs. 52 lakhs.  
the details of scientists working in the area  
Ans) One scientist is working in this area  
The tentative time for developing transgenic seeds  
Ans) 5-7 years.  
Whether ICAR can alone compete with MNCs and developed nations research programmes  
Ans) Yes, incase of black pepper  
Whether govermnet will consider having a joint venture research activity with private sector in transgenics  
Ans) At present, No.  
6) Whether the Government proposes to use biotechnology in agriculture; and
Ans) Presently biotechnological research in spices are concentrated on development of micro propagation techniques, DNA finger printing of germplasm and invitro conservation.  
If so, the details thereof:  
Micro-propagation protocols has been developed for a range of spice crops and molecular markers were standardized for variety of spice crops. Protocols for in vitro conservation is being standardized.  
7) Status notes on "Applicability of Biotechnology in agricultural farming-the Role, Achievements and Targets of ICAR".


  • The Institute developed protocols for micropropagation of over 40 important spice crops which include black pepper, long pepper, betel vine, cardamom, large cardamom, ginger, turmeric, Kaempferia, ginger, Vanilla, cinnamon, camphor, curry leaf, capsicum, coriander, fennel, anise, dill, celery, parsley, basil, thyme, lavender, mint, oregano, marjoram, Ocimum, sage, Acorus etc. Developed protocols for somatic embryogenesis in black pepper, ginger, cardamom & cinnamon.
    Protocols were standardized for slow growth method of conservation in spice crops. The method is used for the storage of cultures with 8-18 months subculture interval. The In Vitro Gene Bank currently includes over 701accessions of various spices. Protocols for successful crypreservation of Capsicum seeds, cardamom meristems, pepper embryos, ginger synseeds, cardamom and vanilla pollen were developed for long term conservation of germplasm.
    Microrhizomes, which could be directly planted in the field, can given reasonably good yield were induced in ginger and turmeric. Successful in vitro pollination and development of fruit and subsequently plantlets was achieved in flower cultures of ginger.
  • Synseed' technology was developed, by encapsulating somatic embryos and shoot buds in alginate beads, in black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, camphor, vanilla, capsicum, sage, lavender and anise. This 'synseeds' are being utilized in the cryoprservation and safe exchange of germplasm.
    Tissue cultured plants of spices such as black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric were evaluated in the field. This coupled with molecular characterization indicated that Tcplants are genetically stable in black pepper, cardamom bur some degree of variability was noticed in ginger and turmeric.
  • Inter specific hybridization and embryo rescu(ovule culture) was successfully done in vanilla to generate variability in vanilla germplasm which was otherwise genetically very narrow.
  • Embryogenic calli of cardamom and ginger were successfully transformed and transient expression of GUS was reported using pAHC 25 vector using biolistics. Agrobacterium mediated transformation for development of disease and drought resistant transgenics carrying Osmotin / Glucanase genes are in progress in black pepper, cardamom and ginger.
    Developed RAPD protocols for black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg clove and vanilla and AFLP protocols in black pepper and vanilla. Data on RAPD polymorphism is being generated in these crops for molecular characterization. Interrelationships between and within cultivars, varieties and species were studied in black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon using molecular data. RAPD,AFLP polymorphism in Selfed Progenies and Interspecific Hybrids of Vanilla was studied. RAPDs were used to confirm hybrid nature of progenies in vanilla and black pepper. Studies on preparation of molecular maps in black pepper is in progress.
  • Studies are in progress to isolate disease resistance gene candidates from black pepper and P. colubrinum using DDRTPCR.
  • DNA of over 400 lines of various spices were kept in DNA Bank.
  • Developed a protocol for isolation and amplification of DNA from fresh rhizomes of ginger & turmeric which will help to identify genuine varieties from spurious material.
  • A protocol for isolation of amplifiable DNA from powdered turmeric samples is also perfected which will help to develop a PCR based technique to determine adulteration in marketed turmeric powder.
8) Whether a set of standards called European clearly specifies that planting of any genetically modified crop should be in accordance with the regulations in vogue in Europe?
Ans) In the light of the answers given for the above Qn, it is not applicable here.  
9) The details and location of commercial plant tissue culture laboratories functioning in the country of present state-wise?
Ans) There are over 120 working commercial tissue culture laboratories in the country involved in micropropagation industry.

Some of the important laboratories involved in Spices are


1. AV Thomas and Company, Kochi
2. Biotechnology and Model Floriculture Laboratory, Kazakuttam, Trivandrum (Govt. of Kerala)
3. Pachila Biotech (P) Ltd, Kakkodi, Calicut


1. Indo American Hybrid Seeds, Bangalore
2. Khoday biotech, Bangalore
3. Grow more Biotech (P) Ltd, Hosur

Tamil Nadu

1. Parry Agro Industries Ltd., Valparai
2. Spic Biotech, Coimbatore

In addition Micropropagation Technology Parks at Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi and National Chemical Laboratory, Pune are involved in both commercial micropropagation and training of micropropagation for spices.

10) Whether it is also a fact that international research facilities are required to be developed in the field of biotechnology in the country?
Ans) Yes.  
11) Whether any precautions have been issued to the state Governments to advise the farmers to adopt the latest technology to protect the crops in such weather and
Ans) Not under AICRPS. However Rajasthan Agricultural University (Jobner Center) has developed and recommended some technologies in Seed Spices (coriander, cumin, fenugreek) to protect the crops from cold wave.  


12) Whether the Government is considering a concrete action plan in regard to development of biotechnology in agriculture?
Ans) The Indian Institute of Spices Research has developed action plan for developing improved varieties of spices through biotechnological tools including bio control and bio fertilizers to improve productivity of clean and organic spices, with minimum or no pesticide residues to compete in international markets.  
13) Whether through development of biotechnology genetic study in regard to agriculture and its research would be made possible in the country itself?
Ans) It’s possible to do in county itself.