The application of modern biotechnology to crop and food production is one of the most significant technological advances to impact modern agriculture. Barely a dozen years since their introduction, genetically modified (GM) crops are currently grown on more than 300 million acres worldwide. GM (or transgenic) crops are produced using plant biotechnology to select desirable characteristics in plants and transfer genes from one organism to another. As a result, crops can survive under harsher conditions, costs are lowered, and yields are improved. Scientists are introducing genes into plants that will give the plants resistance to herbicides, insects, disease, drought, and salt in the soil. Crop research in bioengineering is also aimed at improving the nutritional quality of food, such as providing healthier vegetable oils. Pharmaceutical and industrial crops (or “pharma” crops) are also on the horizon, with the potential to dramatically reduce drug production costs. Compared to traditional plant breeding, biotechnology can produce new varieties of plants more quickly and efficiently, and it can introduce desirable traits into plants that could not be established through conventional plant breeding techniques.
Carter, C.A., Moschini, G. and Sheldon, I. (2011), "Introduction", Carter, C.A., Moschini, G. and Sheldon, I. (Ed.) Genetically Modified Food and Global Welfare (Frontiers of Economics and Globalization, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. xxi-xxviii. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1574-8715(2011)0000010005
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