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The Role Of Biotechnology In Agriculture

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A viable strategy to feed the planet and its people must also encourage the biodiversity preservation. One of the best ways to stimulate biodiversity is to reserve natural habitats. By sustaining or even increasing harvests on standing land, expansion of agriculture into natural areas can be minimized with help of biotechnology crops. Agriculture has been the pillar of food and nutrient supply not only for human but also for animals directly and indirectly. At this time agriculture is suffering from lots of complications such as varying climate, burden for large scale production of grain and pest interruption etc. These problems of agriculture biotechnology can be mitigated by using technique of plant breeding. The strength of this technique is to transfer gene from any source to plants. Similarly, Nanotechnology unties a huge opportunity of unique application in the field of agriculture biotechnology. Agriculture biotechnology proved helpful for growth of herbicide tolerant, pest resistant, insect resistant and disease resistant plants.


Sustainable Agriculture can be demarcated as the organization of agricultural resources to fulfill human needs, without conceding the quality of the environment and obstructing natural resources (Chandra AK, et al. 2018). Agriculture is the strength of our country. It does not only involve the rising of crops but forestry, animal farming are also its part. The land and environment of our country is so much rich and miscellaneous that we are in a position to harvest agricultural yields relatively cheaply. The load on agriculture to nourish the population is growing with the increase in the population. To meet the ever growing demand of food grains farmers raises the crop on the unwanted lands like salt affected areas. Existing agriculture practices and machineries are famous to meet the requirement in a supportable ways.

Improving the agricultural crop, decreasing the post-harvest injuries, checking yield losses due to diseases, pest outbreak, drought stress, salt stress and also increasing the nutritive value of the agricultural yield are some of the main target which scientist are ready to attain in the modern agriculture. Biotechnology has grew as a science whose range is limited by our mind only.

Unexpected success in the field of chemistry, molecular biology and plant sciences has leaded it to a new stature. The uses of biotechnology to agriculture have been determined, both within the agriculture segment and outside it. Karoly Ereky was the first scientist who used the term Biotechnology in 1919. Biotechnology can be defined as use of living organisms and living system for benefit of mankind. Enhancing the food grain assembly and thereby increasing the earnings of farmer is the main target of the biotechnology (Kumar K, et al. 2018).

The succeeding 50 years is expected to be the last period of fast agricultural development thereafter the globe should be in a stable state. Agriculture biotechnology proved helpful to fulfill the food demands of growing population in world. To get ahead the next 50 years, it is valuable to gaze back on what has occurred the past 50 years. A rise in land region of about 27% contributed to the manufacture of that additional food.

This unbelievable increase in crop was attained by a combination of features—superior varieties, more pesticides, more irrigation and more systematization, as well as growth in cultivated area. Different technologies are used in field of agriculture biotechnology like plant breeding, marker assisted selection and nanotechnology etc. Nanotechnology, a new developing and interesting field of science, permits progressive research in many regions, and Nano technological detections could open up new applications in the field of biotechnology and agriculture (Siddiqui MH, et al. 2015).


Though Mendel made his remarks about heritage patterns in peas in the mid-1800s, they were misplaced from the scientific community and then rediscovered by botanist in 1900. Hybrid corn was the first widely grown crop developed in 1920 based on Mendel’s principles. In early 1970s rice yield in the Philippines increased from 2 metric tons per hectare to over 3 metric tons per hectare in early in 1980 during the period of green revolution.

As a whole wheat and rice production increased by about 75% in the developing world between 1965 to 1980. In the early 1990s the first wave of agricultural biotechnology products originated has helped farmers and manufacturers by providing agronomic traits. As a result crop yield increases at low costs. The second wave of agricultural biotechnology crops is planned to spread the market in 2002–2005 and will mark output traits, encouraging to increase the value of crops from the farmer to the consumer.

A third wave of agro-biotechnology, projected to emphasis on the expansion of plants as nutrient factories to provide food, feedstuff, and fiber, is also expected after 2005. Finally, agricultural biotechnology provide tools to tackle current or developing problems in food assembly and human nutrition (Babinard J, 2001).

How it used for crop improvement?

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  1. Genetic engineering
  2. Molecular markers
  3. Molecular diagnostics
  4. Tissue culture

1. Genetic engineering

Over the last few periods, the agricultural biotechnology has developed rapidly due to the cumulative knowledge about the DNA as the chemical messenger of the genome. Genetic engineering is one of the modern biotechnology implements that are normally used in agricultural science for improvement of crops. This includes the management of genetic makeup of plants or even animal to design recombinant organism having transformed genomic composition. The desirable genes can either transported across the species or, even quieted the effect of unwanted genes. These efforts limit the crop improvements by means of plant breeding, but because of some misunderstanding about the biosafety concerns, consumer’s approval of GM crops is also need to be determined


  • Isolating genomic DNA from donor.
  • Fragmenting this DNA using molecular scissors
  • Screening the fragments for desired genes.
  • Insertion of DNA in a vector.
  • Introducing recombinant vector in host cell.
  • Culturing the cell
  • Transformation of host cell
  • Extraction and use of desired product from transformed cells.

2. Molecular markers

Markers used in agricultural biotechnology are morphological marker biochemical molecular markers, DNA based markers and non-morphological marker. DNA based marker used are RFLP, RAPD (PCR based marker), SSR and ISSR. Scientists use molecular markers to select plants possessing desired gene.

3. Molecular diagnostics

These are methods used to detect genes or gene products that are very precise and specific. These are used in agriculture to more accurately diagnose crop diseases. Molecular markers have made it probable to improve diagnostic techniques to recognize pathogen with an un¬precedented precision and speed and to knock genes from as various sources as microbes, animals and plants to permit the researchers to grow plants resistant to diseases (Bhatt ZA, et al. 2010).

4. Tissue culture

Tissue culture is the collection of technique used to grow plant cells. It is also used to produce virus free plants. In tissue culture technique multiplication and growth of cells, tissue and organs occurred under controlled and aseptic condition. This technology is widely used for large-scale plant development. This viable technology is mainly based on micro propagation, in which rapid proliferation is achieved from axillary buds, tiny stem cuttings and to a less extent from somatic embryos, cell clusters in suspension cultures and bioreactors. Micro propagation is one of the most useful features of plant tissue culture procedure. It has found extensive practical application. The procedure of micro propagation includes the four distinct stages. First stage is initiation stage depends on explant type. Second stage is shoot multiplication stage depends on plant growth regulators. In third stage growth of these shoots under ex vivo or in vivo condition occurred. Fourth step is acclimatization of plant grown in in-vitro condition (Shahzad A, et al. 2017).

Social and economic impacts of agricultural biotechnology

The values to human populations of any public or private activities that modify the ways in which people live, work, play, relay to one another, establish to meet their requirements and generally survive as members of society. A safe and appropriate food supply is necessary for human kind. Like any technology, agricultural biotechnology will have economic and social impacts. It is main factor effecting the health and welfare of farmers and citizens in the developing world. Nowadays, four most GM crops are Soybean, maize, cotton and rapeseed. Together, they now occupy 99% of the global land implanted to GM crops. GM rapeseed crops inhabit roughly 10% of the global land of GM crops. The economic impact group comprises all features of farm economy such as variations in input and output prices, economic effects of changed managing practices, etc. While also encircling economic scopes, impacts of circulation and access are separated from the economic influences (Fischer K, et al. 2015).

Application of agriculture biotechnology in crop improvements

Application of Biotechnology in Agriculture involves scientific techniques such as Genetically Modified Organisms, Bt Cotton, and Pest Resistant Plants. It helps in altering plants, animals, and microorganisms and increase their agricultural productivity. Techniques like vaccines, tissue culture, and genetic engineering are also used. Agriculture biotechnology has made possible to grow insect resistant, disease resistant, herbicide tolerance plants and virus free plant.

Insect resistant plants

Several crops have been genetically engineered to make them resistant to specific groups of insects. Bt cotton was created by the addition of genes encrypting endotoxin (called as cry toxins) for a specific group of organism. The endotoxins are dissolved due to the high pH level of the insect’s midgut, when insect attack and eat the cotton plant. Communication between this proteins with receptor opens cation selective pores which permit the flow of potassium. Osmotic lysis arises in the midgut of the insect. Also, parameter of potassium concentration is vital and, if left unrestricted, causes death of cells. Due to the development of Cry ion channels adequate regulation of potassium ions is vanished and results in the death of epithelial cells. Septicemia initiated by enteric bacteria also contributes to this ((Kumar K, et al. 2018).

Delayed fruit ripening

Flavr Savr is a classic example of genetic engineering scientist’s goal to slow down the ripening practice of the tomato and thus avoid it from softening, while still permitting the tomato to hold its natural colour and aroma. This was done by addition of an antisense gene which affects with the creation of the enzyme polygalacturonase. The enzyme normally degrades pectin in the cell walls and results in the softening of fruit which makes them more susceptible to damaged. The proposed effect of slowing down the softening of Flavr Savr tomatoes would consent the vine ripe fruits to be collected like green tomatoes without larger damage to the tomato itself ((Kumar K, et al. 2018).

Herbicide tolerance plant

Herbicide resistant crops have been grown commercially since 1995. These crops are designed to tolerate specific broad-spectrum herbicide. These herbicides will kill the surrounding flora but leave the cultivated crop intact. Scientists use Genetic engineering techniques to produce herbicide resistant crops. Most commonly used herbicide in modern agriculture is Glyphosate (N-phosphonomethyl-glycine). In 1970, Glyphosate was confirmed for herbicidal use by researchers at Monsanto Company and was commercialized as a nonselective herbicide in 1975. The worldwide acceptance of glyphosate- based herbicides stalks from its good efficiency against a wide range of weed species, equally low cost on a per-acre basis, its gentle toxicology and environmental security profile under planned conditions of use (Huang J. et al, 2015).

Golden rice

It is genetically engineered rice contains pro vitamin A content. Deficiency of vitamin A can lead to death. Golden rice produced by genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, an originator of vitamin A, in the endosperm of rice. Golden rice was produced by altering rice with two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes i.e. psy (phytoene synthase) from daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) and crtI (carotene desaturase) from the soil bacterium Erwinia uredovora. The psy and crtI genes were transported into the rice nuclear genome and placed under the regulator of an endosperm-specific promoter, so that they are only uttered in the endosperm. The end product of the engineered pathway is lycopene (Kumar K, et al. 2018).

Risks and issues of Agricultural biotechnology

  • Bt crops are known quiet promising for growing annual crop yield and reducing the use of various insecticides but the global agriculture sector plunged into an enkindled argument. Challengers highlight that Bt crops with insect resistance characters could intrude natural environment as well as human health. One major feature in risk evaluation of BT crops is the assessment of toxic effects of Cry proteins on valuable or non-target arthropods. About 70% of all crops endure pollination by different insects or small animals and nearly 1 million maize pollens are formed per day. The pollens from transgenic crops bear Cry protein toxins, therefore pollinators are considered to be at high risk. Thus Bt pollens has harmful impact on pollinators. Honey bee are the most important and efficient pollinators that are affected by Bt pollens. Some carnivores pollinators are also affected by Bt pollens (Shahid AA, 2016).
  • Allergy and toxicity are also major problem of advances in agriculture biotechnology.
  • Nutrient imbalance is also the major issue of agriculture biotechnology.
  • Similarly, other risk of agriculture biotechnology is nutrient imbalance.


GM foods have potential to solve food security and malnutrition problems. They help to protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield. They reduce dependence on chemical pesticides and herbicides. Insect resistant, herbicide tolerance and disease tolerant plants can be easily grown by advances in agriculture biotechnology by using special techniques.Yet there are many challenges ahead for governments in the areas of safety testing, regulation, international policy and food labelling.

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The Role Of Biotechnology In Agriculture. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from
“The Role Of Biotechnology In Agriculture.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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