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Food and Agricultural Research Council

Biotechnology


Definition
 
There are multiple definitions of ‘biotechnology’ and the following are those used by the National Research Council and the USDA of the US:
• Agricultural biotechnology: a collection of scientific tools, including genetic engineering, that are used to create, improve, or modify plants and microorganisms.
The other major tools are: Marker-assisted breeding (using conventional breeding techniques); plant tissue culture; cloning and invitro fertilisation (animals); gene profiling or association mapping; and metabolomics.
• Genetic Engineering: Method to produce an organism with a new trait, generally by transferring a gene(s) from another organism.
• Genetically Modified Organism: Plant, animal or micro-organism produced using genetic engineering (U.S. prefers the term "GE”, ”transgenic", "biotech", "produced using gene technology").
Global Agricultural Biotechnology in 2008
2008 marks the 13th anniversary of commercialized biotech crops
Over 800 million hectares of biotech crops planted worldwide since 1996.
In 2008, the global area of biotech crops increased 9.4 percent to 125 million hectares
Biotech crops are grown by over 13 million farmers in 25 countries, including 7 countries in the EU.
Over 90% of 'biotech' farmers are in developing countries
In 2008, Bolivia, Burkina Faso and Egypt began planting biotech soy, cotton, and corn (respectively) for the first time.
They join several other developing countries including the Philippines, India and South Africa.
Biotech crop production on 4 main crops:
Soybeans: 53% of global area ~6.5 million ha
Maize: 30% of global area ~ 37.3 million ha
Cotton: 12% of global area ~ 15.5 million ha
Canola (Rape seed) : 5% of global area- 5.9 million ha
Biotech crop production on two main traits:
Herbicide Tolerance
Insect Resistance
Tendency now on increased use of “Stacked traits” that combine one or more traits.