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Applications of Biotechnology in Agriculture

Growing of plants for food has been done since the beginning of mankind the techniques to achieve this only changed within the centuries, the advancement of technology helped bring new and improved ways to produce crops presenting surge to agriculture which has allowed development of civilisation. Agriculture changed through different historical periods, it went through the prehistoric, Roman feudal and where we are now, the clinical period applying several technologies to attain its seeks. Activities proceeded to go from domestication of crops, use of material tools, trading of food products, selecting traits like pest control through animal (classic) breeding, mutation breeding, renewable revolution and currently genetically modified plants (GMOs).

Agriculture is the procedure of utilising land for producing crops, rearing animals also referred to as farming with tactics like mulching, flooding, fallowing, crop rotation and multiple cropping. As the world population grows the necessity for more food puts a rise in its creation and agricultural land resources making remarks made by Robert Malthus ' Population will over strip food production ' a reality. The change in climate contributes to loss of land scheduled to growing sea levels, use of hazardous pesticide to regulate pest adds severe pollutants to the surroundings from the use of organophosphorous materials to DDT (Gatehouse, A. M. R. , 2010) allowed the marketplace of agriculture to seek alternative measures which can be less harmful, cheap, lasting and environment friendly.

Biotechnology as described by The Convention on Biological Diversity. Article 2. UNEP 1992 is 'Any technical software that uses biological systems, living microorganisms, or derivatives, to make or adjust products or processes for specific use'. Biotechnological principles have been put on industrial operations, food development and husbandry. It began with 'zymotechnology' used to describe the application of fermentation in wine beverages brewing, leather healing, removal of cream from dairy and making of citric acid solution (Robert Bud, 1994). This developed through the years from using bacterias and yeast to make foods like loaf of bread, yogurt and producing drugs like penicillin. These applications resulted to the beginning of Genetic Engineering in the search for greater crop productivity, improved yield, treatments to diseases and enhanced animal growth that involves the procedure of manipulating DNA in living organisms setting up a 'transgenic' organism. Innovations in the twentieth century were predicated on the use of Mendelian genetics and principles (Ruttan, 1999) taking into account physiological traits while the twenty first century is dependant on biotechnology and its applications such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops, and herbicide repellent crops.

This essay discusses the efforts of biotechnology nowadays, days gone by and present applications with reference to agriculture. It gives the general view of its applications high lightening the advantages (benefits) and negatives (risks) of the technology in agriculture and mentions the future trends of the technology.


Traditional agricultural techniques of cross breeding different crop variety to develop a desired trait like disease level of resistance is an example of the application of biotechnology in agriculture, this have been utilized since 1970s and shows biotechnology 's been around for a while. Biotechnology as a technology is applied in present day agriculture which includes coined the word 'agricultural biotechnology' also referred to as 'inexperienced biotechnology'. It currently entails procedures in genetic engineering and molecular biology to generate new food, produce transgenic flower and pets and consists of applications in agricultural routines like growing biofertilizers, pest resilient crops, herbicide tolerant plants and selection in canine breeding. The connection of this field lies in the connections between food control techniques and living systems for food and pet agriculture such as production of vaccines to address pest, disease and viruses.

Genetic engineering permits the isolation and characterisation of genes to understand and produce protein which gives main clues to changing the genetic constitute of the organism to produce the desired benefit or produce new genes which permit food and increased animal production which is the ultimate goal of agriculture. It uses molecular markers to characterise genetic diversity to choose mating type and ensure intra-specific deviation (Dawson et al, 2009).

The Need

Conventional breeding brought about uncontrolled crosses and results as the genetics of the crossing had not been fully grasped or predicted, a good example of this is actually the production of desired traits with unwanted ones such as pest resistance with low quality (Wieczorek, 2003). It was labour rigorous and frustrating which sparked a dependence on a more effective and effective way. This is responded by current applications of agricultural biotechnology as genetic engineering allow for proper and specific characteristics to be attributed to the transgenic organism.

The constraints on crop production by biotic stress such as infestation, insect and pathogens like corn ear canal worm and by abiotic stress like drought, frost brought about research to create solutions like pest repellent maize and drought tolerant vegetation. Genetically engineered plants are responding to these constraint allowing herbicide tolerance, insect, trojan level of resistance to be conferred on vegetation.

Also there can be an economic dependence on effective and less unsafe insecticide as farmers need a cheaper way to protect vegetation in the field and take part in sustainable methods of practicing agriculture.

Applications and Efforts of Biotechnology to Agriculture

Biotechnology has contributed to flower and animal output, the manipulation of genes in plant and animals has conferred safety against stress, pest, diseases and bugs. It has created opportunities and benefits for both farmers and the current economic climate to boost crop produce indirectly by the reduced amount of these factors and produce more ecological methods and foods. As the genes that confer these attributes are from effortlessly occurring organisms using their insecticidal properties they use for success (Carlini et al, 2002) including the Cry proteins of Bt used in cotton.

In Plants

The commercialisation of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) plants in countries like United States, India and Australia is an enormous gain to both farmers and the overall economy as it has permits the control of insect pest and better crop produce by reducing infestation. For instance Bt cotton used in India for bollworm control is resulting in increased production and reduced costs (Barwale, et al 2004). The waste exert pathological result by developing lytic pores in cell memebrane of insect gut (Maagd, et al, 2001).

Herbicide resistance trait in vegetable like in the case of glyphosate resistant soybeans used for weed control allows farmers wipe out yield minimizing weeds, confer greater safe practices to multiple glyphosate program (Green, J. , 2009) and maximise crop productivity. Varieties have been developed since its first release in 1993 (Carpenter, 1999). This software allows broad spectrum of herbicide with environmental gain to be used without affecting the place as the gene produces a glyphosate-tolerant form of EPSPS which is necessary for amino acid solution synthesis and it is blocked by glyphosate in non transgenic plant life. (ISSSA, 2006).

In Animals

In animals, biotechnology has contributed to agriculture by the hereditary improvement of livestock without crossbreeding (Wheeler, 2007) such as the development of trangenic pets with improved expansion rate, volume and quality of meat and milk. A good example is the utilization of Bovine Somatotropin (bST ) in cows to permit changes in pet animal body tissue to allow more nutrition in their metabolism to be utilized in dairy synthesis (Bauman, 1992). However applications in disease control of pets or animals, vaccines for disease amount of resistance such as tick vaccines, transgenic salmon for enhanced growth using sockeye salmon growth hormones gene (Devlin et al, 1994 and 1995) are all potentials of the technology in agriculture with some degree of commercialisation in some part of the world with regulatory endorsement pending in others.


Increase in crop safety: Agricultural biotechnology has improved crop safeguard by enabling the utilization of fewer pesticides setting up a sustainable way to practice agriculture and protect land as an all natural learning resource. The built-in security for crop seed against bugs and their diseases has significantly reduced the necessity to use conventional insecticides which have broad spectrum with no specificity. It in turn reduces environmental contamination and the risk it confers to humans. For example the acceptance and commercialisation of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops like silk cotton, canola and maize proves the enormous benefit GMO plants can do for the globe. The contaminants used are specific, beneficial pests are not afflicted and chances of evolutional level of resistance building are significantly low.

Increased Food Creation and quality: The effective settings of pest, insects and weeds have produced an indirect influence on the increase of yields with added unpredicted benefits such as reduction of specific fungal mycotoxin in Bt Zea mays (maize) (Shelton et al, 2002). It has generated variety in food we find in the market today.

Economic Advantage to Farmers: Farmers have the ability to make more profit with cheaper ways of pest control. The usage of Bt vegetation will positively influence the livelihood of small farmers by enhancing their net earnings (Barwale, et al 2004) lowering the price of purchasing chemical, because they are getting natural control in the transgenic seeds used for farming.

Improved Diet: The improvement of food quality by genetically altered crops comes with an added advantage of improving diet. For the producing world where the primary diet is grain the creation of 'golden rice' with beta carotene to meet up with the required supplement A necessity is an advantage towards reducing vitamin supplements A insufficiency in children.

Sustainable, safe and clean: GMO plants are the most scrutinised and regulated crops rendering them safe. Applications are clean and cool proving to be more ecological for our resources. Bt genes can be found and proven safe as a bio-pesticide and allows the exploitation of plant biotechnology for agricultural biotechnology.

Efficient use of farmland: The improvement of crops by agricultural biotechnology creates the advantage of utilising less land for farming which reduces erosion (Mannion, A. M. , 1995) and supports biodiversity in the ecosystem.


Evolution of Amount of resistance: You have the prospect of transgenic crops to develop evolutional level of resistance (Zhao et al, 2003) and studies completed by Zhao et al (2003), Gould, F. , (1998), Roush, R. T. , (1998) show ways such as use of different contaminants in different kinds and pyramiding to wait this result. Also there is the chance in the use of markers genes conferring antibiotic amount of resistance from bacteria vectors to place which can be resolved by use of natural markers and techniques like florescent markers from jelly fish. The probable of weeds becoming resistant specific herbicide due to constant exposure creating the 'super weed'.

Undesirable and unintended results: Exactly like in conventional combination breeding in plants and animals there is the risk to getting an unhealthy or unintended impact in the use of agricultural biotechnology.


Biotechnology is an instrument for advancement in agricultural routines with important and beneficial applications. It is enabling global solutions to the issues created by human population. Like any other technology it should be checked for risks without downplaying or looking over its potential and benefits therefore of lack of understanding or the scare of the anonymous. Furture fads in agricultural biotechnology are promising with research and studies performed frequently to address its negatives and permit global commercialisation and program of the technology.

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