Role of Agricultural Biotechnology in Food Security


Biotechnology is the application of techniques to improve plant and animals by using biological


organisms to enhance their value. Agricultural Biotechnology involves applications to


Agriculture. It involves modification in living organisms by genes manipulation. World


population is increasing day by day with the advancement in and technology medicine. People


are living longer lives and world population is increasing. To fulfill their nutritional requirement,


more nutritious food is required. During 1990-92 the population of Sub-Saharan Africa was 500


million and during 2010 it was increased up to 874 million. The population of South Asia during


1990-92 was 1138 million which was increased up to 1617 million during 2010. Moreover it is


predicted that up to 2050, population will increase over 10 billion people. How to supply enough


food that man doesnt suffer a world famine. Due to regular need of land for mans living, it is


relatively harder to expand farimg land in future. Then the only way towards the solution of this


problem is to enhance the production techniques so as to increase the production to meet the

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requirements. Due to Agricultural Biotechnology, number of hungry people is declined. This was


made through the introduction of new more resistant and improves cultivars with more intensive


but precisely ues of inputs as was in Green Revolution. The benefits of Agricultural


Biotechnology are as;


Due to this technique, the overall production has increased as it involves improved and resistant


cultivars against pests as well as diseases. The introduction of microorganism, Bacillus


Thuringiensis into the maize genome, formulates a BT Maize crop which is resistant to corn


borers by producing Cry1Ab protein. In brinjal, the major problem is shoot and fruit borer which


attacks all aerial parts specially friut and shoot. To avoid this damage, a protein Cry1Ac is


introduced, to form BT Brinjal which has resistant against lepidopteran. During 1990, work on


transgenic cotton was started to avoid the attack of boll worms. Bacillus Thuringiensis was


incorporated to develop BT Cotton which reduce the cost of insecticides and also incease the


yield upto 35 percent. Many crops have been engineered to resist herbicide appliction to increase


better production. For example, Tobacco have been resistant to Bromoxynil herbicide and many


other crops have been resistant to the glyphosate herbicide. Blight resistant potato was a


dominent disease in potato. Then a gene Rpi-blb1 and Rpi-blb2 was introduced taken from

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Fusarium oxysporum to resist this disease.


Some of the abiotic stress resistant plant engineered by biotechnology are as; Scientists have


developed drought resistant wheat, soybean and maize cultivars with the inoculation of a gene


HAHB4 isolated from sunflower. Researchers have noticed that plants have a naturally


substance glycinbetain resistant to salts. Genetically, modified tomatoes having glycinbetain are


more resistant to salts. Agricultural Biotachnology also helps in improving nutritional value of


food to accomplish hidden hunger. Rice provides 80 ercent or more of the calories reqiure by a


person each day. Blindness is caused by Vit. A deficiency. Golden Rice was engineered to


accomplish this deficiency, created by rice transforming with two beta-carotene biosynthesis


genes: phytoene synthase and crtl from the soil bacterium Erwinia uredovora. Bet-carotene


(precursor of vit. A) is present in the endosperm which is edible part of the grain. Frost damages


tomato crop. To prevent this damage, an antifreeze gene from cold water fish was inoculant in


tomato plant. An enzyme Chymosin, obtained from bacteria, helps in preservaation of cheese for


a longer period. It replaces calf rennet with chymosin and now mostly used in manufacturing


inndustries. It has reduced 50 percent cost and high yield efficiency. Flavor can be improved by


enhancing the role of enzymmes that transform the aroma precursor into aroma compounds. For

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example in water-melon and pepper. Sccientists have identified and modified growth hormone


gocerning gene in tilapia, increasing yield and greater fish protein in local diets.


Apart from all these benefits of Agricultural biotechnology, some risks are also there as it causes


some problems in animals as well as in human due to poor management. For example in 2000, a


maize variety cleared for animal consumption was also found in human consumption. A major


concern from Agri. Biotechnology is the introduction of allergens and toxins in otherwise safe


foods. Biotechnology also causes an introduction of an undesired gene which is not suitable for


health. Scientists maintain that when transgenic crops will be introduced at field level, it will


causes undesirable changes on non-target species. For example pollen from BT corn may kill


caterpillar of monarch butterfly. It is also important to note that insects may develop resistant


against herbicides when transgenic crops exposed to field level. Agricultural Biotechnology


represents unique science applications that are used to fill the gap in nutritional requirements of


the society. Biotechnology, as a genetic engineering is beneficial for society if carefully managed


and ethically used.

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