What is Biotechnology

Biotechnology is the targeted modification of living organisms and is used widely in agriculture. It includes tools used to understand and manipulate the genetic make-up of organisms used for producing or processing agricultural products.

Increasingly, extreme climatic events will impact on food production in many areas of the world. A +1°C local temperature change may threaten rainfed cereal production while changes of over +3°C will lead to major crop losses (Easterling et al., 2007). Adaptation in management may partially mitigate against these effects but biotechnology may also be used to improve resistance to pests and diseases, improve yield stability, reduce reliance on fertilizer and enhance the nutritional value of staple crops.

A rapidly changing climate will require rapid development of new plant varieties; biotechnology can enhance the speed, flexibility and efficiency of plant breeding (Fig. 12.1).

Time

Fig. 12.1. Keeping pace with climate change.

Time

Fig. 12.1. Keeping pace with climate change.

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