Agricultural Biotechnology

Agrobiotechnology image of apple with slice cut out. Inside of the apple looks like an orange

Apples to Oranges

It would take a lot of gravy to make genetically modified organisms or transgenic plants taste good to me. Even if the FDA, USDA and the EPA all say it's AOK, I prefer the genetic cooking experience of Mother Nature, thank you very much.

Am I just being paranoid? (I can't say... they might be listening.) Is there really a difference between GMOs and organic foods that make genetically modified organisms unhealthy, or worse, unappetizing?

It turns out that the joke is on me, because I have probably been eating GMOs for a long time in what may be the biggest human experiment of all time.

I am hoping my concerns have germinated from agro-ignorance, because one thing I have learned by studying the future, is that Nature will need help feeding a growing population.

 

Mini Glossary

Here are some of the terms that I discovered during my introduction to agricultural biotechnology.

Agricultural biotechnology is also known as agribiotechnology, agro-biotechnology agribiotech, agbiotech.

Agrobiotechnology is an umbrella term to describe different processes for duplicating biological material.

Agricultural biotechnology is also known as agribiotechnology, agro-biotechnology agribiotech, agbiotech.

GM - Genetically Modified

GMO - Genetically Modified Organism

GE - Genetically Engineered

LMO - Living Modified Organism

Transgenic - Containing genes from another species

Bt Crops - transgenic crops producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins that kill pests.

Bt - Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a natural soil bacterium that produces crystals containing proteins that are toxic to certain insects.

 

Pros and Cons of Agricultural Biotechnology

Agrobiotechnology

Advances in agricultural biotechnology may provide farmers and consumers with:

 

  •  Reduced use of pesticides
  •  Crops resistant to disease
  •  Crops resistant to pests
  •  Increased yields
  •  Reduced production costs
  •  Foods that are nutritionally-enriched
  •  Foods that last longer
  •  Reduced fats
  •  Reduced allergens/food-borne illnesses
  •  New medicines
  •  Reduced use of uncultivated land
  •  Erosion, soil management
  •  Renewable sources of energy
  •  Biodegradable manufacturing materials

 

Risks of Agricultural Biotechnology

Here are some agricultural biotechnology risks:

 

  •  Gene Transfer
  •  Unintended effects on humans and other organisms
  •  Pests and weeds naturally developing resistance

 

Agrobiotechnology and Consumer Foods

superspud

Advances in agricultural biotechnology may provide farmers and consumers with:

The first genetically engineered product went on the market in 1994. The FDA determined that a new tomato, which could be shipped vine-ripened without rotting rapidly, was as safe as other commercial tomatoes. Since then, more than 50 other genetically engineered foods have been determined by the agency to be as safe as their conventional counterparts.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America estimates that between 70 percent and 75 percent of all processed foods available in U.S. grocery stores may contain ingredients from genetically engineered plants. Breads, cereal, frozen pizzas, hot dogs and soda are just a few of them.

Soybean oil, cottonseed oil and corn syrup are ingredients used extensively in processed foods. Soybeans, cotton and corn dominate the 100 million acres of genetically engineered crops that were planted in the United States in 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Through genetic engineering, these plants have been made to ward off pests and to tolerate herbicides used to kill weeds. Other crops, such as squash, potatoes, and papaya, have been engineered to resist plant diseases.

More than 50 biotech food products have been evaluated by the FDA and found to be as safe as conventional foods, including canola oil, corn, potatoes, soybeans, squash, sugar beets and tomatoes.

Who Manages the Safety of Agricultural Biotechnology Food Products?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work to ensure that crops produced through genetic engineering for commercial use are properly tested and studied to make sure they pose no significant risk to consumers or the environment.

Consumers and the Future of Biotech Foods

 

Agricultural Robots

biotechology foods

An agricultural robot or agribot is a robot deployed for agricultural purposes.

The main area of application of robots in agriculture is at the harvesting stage.

Robots like these have many benefits for the agricultural industry, including a higher quality of fresh produce, lower production costs, and a smaller need for manual labor.

The future of robotics on farms

Clever Robots For Crops

Field Robot Event

Rice-planting robot