Dr. C.M. Ayyub1, Naheed Akhtar2, Dr. Mujahid Ali3, Saqib Ayyub1

(1Horticulture, UAF; 2Horticulture, DG Khan; 3WMRF Renala Khurd)

Introduction: Agricultural biotechnology has the potential to advance crop productivity, and production enhancement and improve food security at the global level. There is a growing alarm about genetically engineered crops and their environmental effects on the food chain. Though acceptance of such technologies has consequences, there is a need for creating Biosafety Regulatory systems to decrease and eradicate possible potential risks arising from agricultural biotechnology on flora and fauna. Agricultural Biotechnology is the use of new scientific techniques based on our understanding of DNA to improve crops and livestock that are not possible with conventional breeding alone. This can be achieved in part by modern molecular plant breeding techniques such as marker-assisted selection (MAS). MAS enables plant breeders to identify better traits in plants more rapidly than conventional breeding alone is capable of. Another aspect of agricultural biotechnology involves the use of recombinant DNA. Unlike molecular plant breeding, however, recombinant DNA technology results in new traits that cannot be achieved in conventional ways. Biotechnology is multidisciplinary in nature. Involving input from

  • Engineering
  • Computer science
  • Cell and Molecular biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Virology Recombination DNA technology Genetic manipulation of bacteria, viruses, fungi, plants, and animals often for the development of specific products.

As with the dawn of agriculture, humanity has always sought ways to improve the yield, hardiness, and other attributes of our core crops and to improve the yields and longevity of our livestock. For the most part, this has been trial and error – relying on random crossbreeding and not always getting the desired attributes. From the standpoint of a lab technician, it is more efficient to select specific genes and modify crops directly with the most desirable gene containing the attribute they are looking to apply instead of applying the changes in the field and ending up with some unexpected and undesirable traits. Desirable traits are not just about yield and hardiness, and today there are other factors as we seek to combat climate change which is altering and providing us with new problems, we have found the need to protect our crops against the following:

Examining and promoting genes that allow crops to develop greater resistance to pests and diseases

To survive extreme weather conditions such as frost, flooding and drought as the planet experiences more extreme weather more frequently

For less fragility in different soil pH levels. Some prefer more alkaline soils while others thrive in acidic soils; different crops also require different quantities of water and soil nutrients  

The Future of Agricultural Biotechnology. Although there are countless blessings of this research, however, opponents of biotechnology are asked to review nature rather than destroy it. According to them, one day we will be just modifying some environmental factors instead of harming nature to agricultural production. It is impossible to predict exactly which new modern biotechnology-derived plants or animals will be ready for the marketplace over the next decade. Some possibilities include: Next transgenic crops Improved agriculture characteristics Improved post-harvest processing Improved Food Quality and Novel Products for Human Use Mitigation of Environmental Pollution

  • Genetically engineered plant varieties that provide improved human nutrition (e.g., soybeans enriched in omega-3 fatty acids);
  • Products designed for use in improved animal feeds (providing better nutritional balance by increasing the concentration of essential amino acids often deficient in some feed components, increased nutrient density, or more efficient utilization of nutrients such as phosphate that could provide environmental benefits);
  • Crops resistant to drought and other environmental stresses such as salinity;
  • Crops resistant to pests and diseases (e.g., fusarium- resistant wheat; chestnut blight resistant chestnut; plum pox resistance in stone fruit; various insect resistant crops);
  • Additional crops containing a number of transgenic traits incorporated in the same plant (stacked traits);
  • Crops engineered to produce pharmaceuticals, such as vaccines and antibodies;
  • Crops engineered for particular industrial uses (e.g., crops having improved processing attributes such as increased starch content, producing useful enzymes that can be extracted for downstream industrial processes, or modified to have a higher content of an energy-rich starting material such as oil for improved utilization as biofuel);
  • Transgenic animals for food, or for production of pharmaceuticals or industrial products (e.g., transgenic salmon engineered for the increased growth rate to maturity, transgenic goats producing human serum factors in their milk, and pigs producing the enzyme phytase in their saliva for improved nutrient utilization and manure with reduced phosphorus content). There are several factors beyond whether a genetically engineered crop or animal can be developed and found efficacious which will help determine whether it is successful as a marketable product. For each such possibility, before any product reaches the marketplace, the federal government must ensure it is safe for human consumption, safe for the environment, and will not adversely affect the food supply.  

To appropriately manage risk, policy should be transparent about impose of additional measures to developers, farmers, or others throughout the food and feed chain that may affect the economic or technical viability of the product and the realization of potential benefits. So we can say that the safe use of biotechnology with every stakeholder on board would be pleasant for the future.

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