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Checkbiotech: Agri-biotech can raise food supply with limited space
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: October 19, 2004 08:10AM ;

HYDERABAD - Genome and genomic tools have become indispensable for better
agronomic traits like better yield, quality and stress tolerance, October
2004 by Bv Mahalakshmi .

Agri-biotechnology has taken the agriculture sector beyond conventional
breeding to newer varieties of transgenics which can increase food supply
with decreasing agricultural space, conserve biosafety with more efficient
use of external inputs. Annotation of the genome sequences using different
gene prediction software allows one to predict the complete nature of all
the genes in a species.

?It permits integrating the physical and genetic maps for mapping important
agronomic traits and development of tightly-linked molecular markers for
application of marker-assisted selection in plant breeding,? says Dr Mangala
Rai, director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

According to Dr Rai, once a gene is cloned, it can be suitably modified with
any promoters and can be transferred in any crop using transgenic

This could be a pest, insect, drought, among other resistant varieties.
However, only two plant genomes have been sequenced which are Arabidopsis-a
weedy relative of mustard which has 125 million base pairs and the other is

After a complete genome sequencing, it was found that Arabidopsis contained
25,000 genes and rice had 56,000 genes.

In any case, agri-biotech is more than developing genetically modified
crops, says the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech
Applications (ISAAA). The applications of the technology from tissue culture
and micropropagation to marker-assisted selection, has led to better
productivity. According to Dr KK Sharma, principal scientist at the
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT),
the bottlenecks for developing biotech are lack of efficient protocols for
transformation and genomics of important food crops; availability of novel
genes and effective promoters; lack of scientists and research facilities;
no proper biosafety regulations in the developing countries and
commercialisation limitations may become serious barriers and may not reach
the poor farmers.

In all possibilities, the future initiatives in crop genetic engineering
include rice with higher levels of iron and beta carotene, long life banana
varieties that ripens faster on the tree for an early harvest, maize with
improved feed value and phosphorous content, tomatoes with higher levels of
flavonols, drought tolerant maize, arsenic tolerant plants, edible vaccines
from fruits and vegetables, and low lignin trees for paper making, the
report stated.


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