Biotech Based Germplasm Development

Biotechnology is making vast progress in many areas, and perhaps genetic engineering is the most obvious area of advance and in which the largest investment has been made by both the public and private sectors. Biotechnology-based germplasm improvement is producing genetic materials which are different from those of traditional breeding methods in terms of genetic nature and deployment strategy. Agricultural research will now need to also look in greater depth into the following areas.

Implications of Biotechnology for Deployment of Genetic Diversity

Use of a standard variety for genetic engineering work aimed toward the addition of a few genes means that there has been no real broadening of the genetic base. There has also been a strong push by breeders of such a variety to promote it over a wide area of cultivation in order to recover the economic investment. Only major crops tend to get attention from biotechnology research investment, and concentration on these major crops might result in the neglect of other minor species which are less competitive, due to the increasing focus on research investment into crops with large market potential.

Living Modified Organisms (Lmos) and Ecology

New crop cultivars have already been produced using genetic engineering, and large areas of genetically modified plants are now being grown in many countries. Agricultural research in the future will address concerns that these techniques and resultant products may have a negative impact on biodiversity (e.g., gene flow to related wild or weedy species) and on the amount and nature of diversity in crops under production.

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