What are ‘agricultural biotechnology’ and ‘genetic modification’?

Agricultural biotechnology encompasses a range of modern plant breeding techniques. For centuries, farmers have tried to improve their crops by means of crossing, relying on the random rearrangement of existing genes between two closely related parent plants. Modern agricultural biotechnology improves crops in more targeted ways. The best known technique is genetic modification, but the term agricultural biotechnology (or green biotechnology) also covers such techniques as Marker Assisted Breeding, which increases the effectiveness of conventional breeding. Whatever the particular technology used, the crops may be destined for use for food, biomaterials or energy production.

Genetic modification means that existing genes are modified or new genes included to give plant varieties desirable characteristics, such as resistance to certain pests or herbicides, or for vitamin fortification. Because only a few genes with known traits are transferred, GM methods are more targeted and faster than traditional breeding. They are used alongside conventional plant breeding.
 
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