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Protoplast fusion is the joining of cells or cell components to transfer traits between species. For example, the trait of male sterility is transferred from radishes to red cabbages by protoplast fusion. This male sterility helps plant breeders make hybrid crops. This method of genetic modification works by interfering with messenger RNA to stop the synthesis of proteins, effectively silencing a gene.

Transgenics involves the insertion of one piece of DNA into another organism's DNA in order to introduce a new gene s into the original organism. This addition of genes into an organism's genetic material creates a new variety with desired traits.

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The DNA must be prepared and packaged in a test tube and then inserted into the new organism. New genetic information can be inserted with biolistics. An example of transgenics is the rainbow papaya, which is modified with a gene that gives it resistance to the papaya ringspot virus. Genome editing is the use of an enzyme system to modify the DNA directly within the cell.

Agricultural Biotechnology

Genome editing was used to develop herbicide resistant canola to help farmers control weeds. Agricultural biotechnology has been used to improve the nutritional content of a variety of crops in an effort to meet the needs of an increasing population. Genetic engineering can produce crops with a higher concentration of vitamins.

For example, golden rice contains three genes that allow plants to produce compounds that are converted to vitamin A in the human body.

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This nutritionally improved rice is designed to combat the world's leading cause of blindness— vitamin A deficiency. Similarly, the Banana 21 project [5] has worked to improve the nutrition in bananas to combat micronutrient deficiencies in Uganda. By genetically modifying bananas to contain vitamin A and iron, Banana 21 has helped foster a solution to micronutrient deficiencies through the vessel of a staple food and major starch source in Africa. Additionally, crops can be engineered to reduce toxicity or to produce varieties with removed allergens.


One highly sought after trait is insect resistance. This trait increases a crop's resistance to bugs and allows for a higher yield. These genetically engineered crops can now produce their own Bt Bacillus thuringiensis , which contains toxin-producing proteins that are non-harmful to humans.

Bt corn and cotton are now commonplace, and cowpeas, sunflower, soybeans, tomatoes, tobacco, walnut, sugar cane, and rice are all being studied in relation to Bt.

ID (Ag. Biotechnology: Before You Judge)

Weeds have proven to be an issue for farmers for thousands of years; they compete for soil nutrients, water, and sunlight and prove deadly to crops. Biotechnology has offered a solution in the form of herbicide tolerance.

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Chemical herbicides are sprayed directly on plants in order to kill weeds and therefore competition, and herbicide resistant crops have to the opportunity to flourish. Often, crops are afflicted by disease spread through insects like aphids.

Spreading disease among crop plants is incredibly difficult to control and was previously only managed by completely removing the affected crop. The field of agricultural biotechnology offers a solution through genetically engineering virus resistance. Developing GE disease-resistant crops now include cassava , maize , and sweet potato.

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  5. Agricultural biotechnology can also provide a solution for plants in extreme temperature conditions. In order to maximize yield and prevent crop death, genes can be engineered that help to regulate cold and heat tolerance. For example, papaya trees have been genetically modified in order to be more tolerant of hot and cold conditions. Quality traits include increased nutritional or dietary value, improved food processing and storage, or the elimination of toxins and allergens in crop plants. Currently, only a small number of genetically modified crops are available for purchase and consumption in the United States.

    The USDA has approved soybeans, corn, canola, sugar beets, papaya, squash, alfalfa, cotton, apples, and potatoes. In , Indian and Chinese farmers planted more than 15 million hectares of Bt cotton. The regulation process takes up to 8 years in the United States. Speakers recognized the challenge of overcoming critics of the technology. It concluded that the current process-based U.

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