Biotechnology in Agriculture
We all know there has been a crisis around the world in the agriculture sector. Although developed countries have an abundance of fresh crops, based on conditions the price can skyrocket. In addition, most crops are treated with chemicals in one form or another as a means of fighting off disease, fungus, and pests. Even when foods are carefully washed, small amounts of toxins are being consumed. Then for people in underdeveloped or undeveloped countries, the greater problem is not having access to foods grown from crops.
Biotechnology in Medicine
Just as biotechnology in medicine is changing the world, tremendous advancements are also being made when it comes to biotechnology in agriculture. As a result, people have unique growing methods, plants can be treated differently to eliminate disease safely, and the cost of growing foods is going down. Obviously, all of this is great news no matter the country. We wanted to offer some specific advancements seen in recent years pertaining to biotechnology in agriculture so people can see just how aggressive research has taken this and how bright the future looks for even more improvements.
- Flavr Savr Tomato – Probably one of the best known advancements has this special tomato that was genetically altered. Interestingly, this particular fruit was the first of its kind to be given a license for human consumption by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1994, two years after being submitted for consideration. After careful research, the FDA determined that this specially grown tomato was not only safe but maintained excellent flavor. Best of all, this tomato has a much longer shelf life, which obviously would mean less wasted food.
- Chemical Free Foods – As mentioned, one of the many benefits of biotechnology in agriculture is that crops are now being designed as herbicide resistant, pest resistant, heat resistant, saline-tolerant, and drought resistant, which means harmful chemicals can be eliminated in growing crops but also that farmers end up with healthy foods even in more challenging conditions.
- Healthier Foods – Biotechnology in agriculture has also made it possible for the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables to be enhanced in several ways. For instance, certain foods have higher than normal levels of beta carotene, as well as lycopene, which many experts believe help fight some forms of cancer. A prime example is golden rice, which thanks to biotechnology can be grown with enhanced levels of vitamin A.
- Bioreactors – Biotechnology has also helped farmers use crops as bioreactors, specifically in the realm of products that provide some level of therapeutic value. Some of these products include interferons, vaccines, antibodies, and various drugs. In fact, because of this the future of people eating fruit as a way of getting vaccinated is just around the corner.
- Quicker Crops – We also see that standard methods used to grow crops are completely changing due to biotechnology in agriculture. Today, the time involved for aggressive cross-breeding and back-breeding has been cut significantly. Of course, this means that growers can harvest faster and thereby producing higher yields each year.
- Genetic Approach – Biotechnology in agriculture has also made it possible for a desired gene to be isolated rather than farmers waiting for years. As a result, a gene, from virtually any source whether bacterial, animal, or even some other non-related species can be introduced easily.
- Plant Tissue Culture – Another advancement pertaining to biotechnology in agriculture has to do with plant tissue culture. The benefit here is that instead of laboratory testing starting small and then translated on a large scale to the field, tissue culture allows mass production of crops that are similar in nature. The great thing about plant tissue culture is that it is multifaceted, sometimes being used to help with biodiversity of conservation pertaining to bioreactors, sometimes endangered crops being regenerated and grown, oil crops and seeds being able to produce a larger volume of oils, and even flowers and other aesthetically pleasing crops producing more vibrant colors and richer textures.
- Fruit and Vegetable Varieties – The final change we wanted to mention has to do with new varieties of fruits being developed. In fact, one company in Canada known as Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. is now using biotechnology in agriculture to help develop entirely different species of fruit trees. This firm actually holds licensed technologies whereby unique attributes can now be introduced into existing or hybrid fruit trees such as nectarine, apricot, cherry, peach, pear, and apple.