Genetically Modified Crops

Topics: Genetically modified food, Genetically modified organism, Genetic engineering Pages: 6 (2035 words) Published: June 21, 2013
Improved nutrition

The GM oilseed crops on the market today offer improved oil profiles for processing or healthier edible oils.[58] The GM crops in development offer a wider array of environmental and consumer benefits such as nutritional enhancement and drought and stress tolerance. GM plants are being developed by both private companies and public research institutions such as CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre.[59] Other examples include a genetically modified cassava with lower cyanogen glucosides and enhanced with protein and other nutrients,[60] while golden rice, developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), has been discussed as a possible cure for Vitamin A deficiency.[61] An international group of academics has generated a vitamin-enriched corn derived from South African white corn variety M37W with 169x increase in beta carotene, 6x the vitamin C and 2x folate – it is not in production anywhere, but proves that this can be done.[62] Stress resistance

Plants engineered to tolerate non-biological stresses like drought,[63][64] frost,[65][66][67] high Soil salinity,[68] and nitrogen starvation[69] or with increased nutritional value (e.g. Golden rice[70]) were in development in 2011. Herbicide resistance

Tobacco plants have been engineered to be resistant to the herbicide bromoxynil.[18] And many crops have created that are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. As weeds have grown resistant to glyphosate and other herbicides used in concert with resistant GM crops, companies are developing crops engineered to become resistant to multiple herbicides to allow farmers to use a mixed group of two, three, or four different chemicals.[71] Pathogen resistance – insects or viruses

Tobacco, and many other crops, have been generated that express genes encoding for insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).[19][72] Papaya, potatoes, and squash have been engineered to resist viral pathogens, such as cucumber mosaic virus which despite its name infects a wide variety of plants. Production of biofuels

Algae, both hybrid and GM, is under development by several companies for the production of biofuels.[73] Jatropha has also been modified to improve its qualities for fuel product. Swiss-based Syngenta has received USDA approval to market a maize seed trademarked Enogen, which has been genetically modified to convert its own starch to sugar to speed the process of making ethanol for biofuel.[74] In 2013, the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology was investigating poplar trees genetically engineered to contain less lignin so that they would be more suitable for conversion into biofuels.[75] Lignin is the critical limiting factor when using wood to make bio-ethanol because lignin limits the accessibility of cellulose microfibrils to depolymerization by enzymes.[76] Production of useful by-products

Drugs

Bananas have been developed, but are not in production, that produce human vaccines against infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B.[77] Tobacco plants have been developed and studied, but are not in production, that can produce therapeutic antibodies.[78] Materials

Several companies and labs are working on engineering plants that can be used to make bioplastics.[79] Potatoes that produce more industrially useful starches have been developed as well.[80] Bioremediation

Scientists at the University of York developed a weed (Arabidopsis thaliana) that contains genes from bacteria that can clean up TNT and RDX-explosive contaminants from the soil: It was hoped that this weed would eliminate this pollution.[81] 16 million hectares in the USA (1.5% of the total surface) are estimated to be contaminated with TNT and RDX. However the weed Arabidopsis thaliana was not tough enough to withstand the environment on military test grounds and research is continuing with the University of Washington to develop a tougher native grass.[82]

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