Genetically modified crops
Genetically modified crops (GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineeringtechniques, to resist pests and agents causing harm to plants and to improve the growth of these plants to assist in farmers efficiency. Genetic engineering techniques are much more precise than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. Other techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding, and somaclonal variation. In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in this species. Examples include resistance to certain pests, diseases or environmental conditions, or the production of a certain nutrient or pharmaceutical agent. Critics have objected to GM crops per se on several grounds, including ecological concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact these organisms are subject to intellectual property law. GM crops also are involved in controversies over GM food with respect to whether food produced from GM crops is safe and whether GM crops are needed to address the world's food needs. See the genetically modified food controversies article for discussion of issues about GM crops and GM food. This article covers GM crops and their use in agriculture. There are separate articles on other aspects of genetic engineering. Thegenetic engineering article focuses on history and methods of genetic engineering, and on applications of genetic engineering and of GMOs. The article on GMOs focuses on what organisms have been genetically engineered and for what purposes. The two articles cover much of the same ground but with different organizations (sorted by application in the genetic engineering article; sorted by organism in the GMO article). There are separate articles on genetically modified food itself, regulation, and controversies. -------------------------------------------------
The first genetically modified plant was produced in 1982, using an antibiotic-resistant tobacco plant. The first field trials of genetically engineered plants occurred in France and the USA in 1986, when tobacco plants were engineered to be resistant to herbicides. In 1987, Plant Genetic Systems (Ghent, Belgium), founded by Marc Van Montagu and Jeff Schell, was the first company to develop genetically engineered (tobacco) plants with insect tolerance by expressing genes encoding for insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The People’s Republic of China was the first country to allow commercialized transgenic plants, introducing a virus-resistant tobacco in 1992. The first genetically modified crop approved for sale in the U.S., in 1994, was the FlavrSavr tomato, which had a longer shelf life. In 1994, the European Union approved tobacco engineered to be resistant to the herbicide bromoxynil, making it the first commercially genetically engineered crop marketed in Europe. In 1995, Bt Potato was approved safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, making it the first pesticide producing crop to be approved in the USA. The following transgenic crops also received marketing approval in the US in 1995: canola with modified oil composition (Calgene), Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn/maize (Ciba-Geigy), cotton resistant to the herbicide bromoxynil (Calgene), Bt cotton (Monsanto), soybeans resistant to the herbicideglyphosate (Monsanto), virus-resistant squash (Asgrow), and additional delayed ripening tomatoes (DNAP, Zeneca/Peto, and Monsanto). As of mid-1996, a total of 35 approvals had been granted to commercially grow 8 transgenic crops and one flower crop of carnations, with 8 different traits in 6 countries plus the EU. In 2000, with the production of golden rice, scientists genetically...