Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Genetics in Medicine - Part 1

Agricultural Biotechnology - Techniques, Advantages, Concerns - Regulations

genetic academy sciences transgenic crops

Biotechnology is the use of living organisms—microbes, plants, or animals—to provide useful new products or processes. In a broad sense, biotechnology continues a process that is thousands of years old. Using traditional plant breeding techniques, humans have altered the genetic composition of almost every crop by only planting seeds from plants with desired traits, or by controlling pollination. As a result, most commercial crops bear little resemblance to their early relatives. Current maize varieties are so changed from their wild progenitors that they cannot survive without continual human intervention.

The 1970s heralded recombinant DNA technology, which gave researchers the ability to cut and recombine DNA fragments from different sources to express new traits. Genes and traits previously unavailable through traditional breeding became available through DNA recombination.

To address these concerns, agricultural biotechnology products are regulated by a combination of three federal agencies: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Together, these agencies assess genetically modified crops, as well as products that use those crops. They test the crops and products for safety to humans and to the environment, and for their efficacy and quality.

Barbara Emberson Soots


Ferber, Dan. "Risks and Benefits: GM Crops in the Cross Hairs." Science 286 (1999): 1662-1666.

Internet Resources

Agricultural Biotechnology. U.S. Department of Agriculture. <http://www.usda.gov/agencies/biotech>.

Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture. Royal Society of London, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, Mexican Academy of Sciences, and Third World Academy of Sciences. <http://stills.nap.edu/html/transgenic>.

Alternative Splicing [next] [back] Aging and Life Span - Life Span And The Aging Process, Diseases Associated With Aging, Genetics And Aging

User Comments

The following comments are not guaranteed to be that of a trained medical professional. Please consult your physician for advice.

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago

One application of agricultural biotechnology is the GM food(http://www.cd-genomics.com/blog/index.php/the-past-and-future-of-gm-food/). Personally I support this because without arguments there is no progress.