Genetically modified plants are plants whose DNA is modified using genetic engineering techniques. 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.
|Contents | | [hide] | |1 History | |2 Development | |3 Types | |4 Regulation | |5 Biosafety | |6 Agricultural impact of transgenic plants | |7 Coexistence and traceability | |8 See also | |9 References | |10 External links |
Plums that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the plum pox disease Some degree of natural flow of genes, often called horizontal gene transfer or lateral gene transfer, occurs between plant species. This is facilitated by transposons, retrotransposons, proviruses and other mobile genetic elements that naturally translocate to new sites in a genome. They often move to new species over an evolutionary time scale and play a major role in dynamic changes to chromosomes during evolution. The introduction of foreign germplasm into common foods has been achieved by traditional crop breeders by artificially overcoming fertility barriers. A hybrid cereal was created in 1875, by crossing wheat and rye. Since then important traits have been introduced into wheat, including dwarfing genes and rust resistance. Plant tissue culture and the induction of mutations have also enabled humans to artificially alter the makeup of plant genomes. 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. In 2011, 11 different transgenic crops were grown commercially on 395 million acres (160 million hectares) in 29 countries such as the USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, China, Paraguay, Pakistan, South Africa, Uruguay, Bolivia, Australia, Philippines, Myanmar, Burkina Faso, Mexico and Spain. The U.S. has adopted the technology most widely whereas Europe has very little genetically engineered crops with the exception of Spain where one fifth of maize grown is genetically engineered, and smaller amounts in five other countries. The EU had a 'de facto' ban on the approval of new GM crops, from 1999 until 2004; in a...