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Introduction to biotech

Throughout history man has sought new ways to produce more and better food. Our ancestors learned by trial and error how to breed and develop improved plant varieties. By selecting and breeding plants with characteristics such as higher yield, resistance to pests and hardiness, early farmers dramatically changed the genetic make-up of crop plants long before the science of genetics was understood. As a result, most of today's crop plants bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors.

Agricultural biotechnology is an advanced technology that allows plant breeders to make precise genetic changes to impart beneficial characteristics to the crop plants we rely on for food. This technology offers a way to quickly improve crop qualities such as yield, pest resistance, or herbicide tolerance, to a degree not possible with traditional methods. Genetically modified crops are already boosting prosperity and providing new choices for consumers.

Today's developments in GM crops provide pest and disease resistance. Other developments provide future opportunities such as drought resistance, salt tolerance and foods that are higher in vitamin and mineral content.

During the nine-year period 1996 to 2004, global area of biotech crops increased more than 47 fold, from 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996 to 81.0 million hectares (approx. 200 million acres) in 2004, with an increasing proportion grown by developing countries. More than one-third (34%) of the global biotech crop area of 81 million hectares (200 million acres) in 2004, equivalent to 27.6 million hectares (68 million acres), was grown in developing countries where growth continued to be strong.

Other Information

 

If you want to know more about this issue, please read:
Crop Biotechnology: An Overview

Related Information

 

GM Crops - Understanding the Issues
GM Crops: Top Five GM Myths

2005 © ABE - Agricultural Biotechnology in Europe

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