Why biotech? - Aggie Horticulture - Texas A&M University


6 Δεκ 2012 (πριν από 5 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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Plant Biotechnology

What IS plant biotechnology
and why is it useful to me??

I’m glad
you asked!

Let’s define:

Plant biotechnology:

a rapidly expanding field within
biotechnology that chiefly involves the
introduction of foreign genes into
economically important plant species,
resulting in crop improvement and the
production of novel products in plants


The genetic manipulation of plants has been
going on since prehistoric times when early
farmers began carefully selecting and
maintaining seed from their best crop to
plant for next season.

Now genes from sexually incompatible
plants, animals, bacteria and insects can
be introduced into plants

Recent developments

Agricultural benefits



Agricultural Benefits of

“Biotechnology is the most rapidly
adopted technology in the history of

Bruce Chassy

Professor of Microbiology

University of Illinois

Growth of Biotechnology

In 2002…

75% of US soybean acres were planted with
biotech soybeans

71% of US cotton acreage were insect and
herbicide resistant biotech cotton varieties

34% of all corn acres were biotech corn

In 2001, biotech crop planting was up 20%, with
greatest percentage growth in developing

Why biotech?

Improves yields

Cuts costs

Reduces spraying

Improves farmers’ quality of life


US biotech crops planted in US
produced additional 4 billion pounds
of food and fiber on same acreage

Improved farm income by $1.5 billion

Reduced pesticide use by 46 million

Biotech in Third World

UN estimates nearly 800 million people around
the world are undernourished

About 400 million women of child
bearing age
are iron deficient, exposing their babies to
various birth defects

Over 100 million children suffer from Vitamin A
deficiency, the leading cause of blindness

Tens of millions of people around the world
suffer from other major ailments or nutritional
deficiencies caused by lack of food

How does biotech help?

Improves farming productivity in
places where there are food

Genetically modified food such as
‘golden rice’ and ‘protato’ that have
increased levels of nutrients

Biotech and the environment

Thanks to biotechnology, corn is the first renewable
raw material that can replace petrochemicals in
fibers and plastics

Corn resin could be used to make fibers, plastic
containers, and other products

Since corn resin is biodegradable, can dramatically
reduce pollution and world’s reliance on crude oil to
make polyesters, plastics, and other products

Also, an increase in environmentally friendly
conservation tillage practices is made possible
through the adoption of biotech crops

As a result…

Nearly 1 billion tons of soil saved per year

Lowered maintenance costs for activities such
as dredging rivers and treating drinking water,
saving $3.5 billion in sedimentation costs in

Reduced levels of greenhouse gases such as
carbon dioxide

306 million gallons of fuel saved in 2002 by
reducing number of tractor passes needed to
control weeds

No more


Former Dean of the School of
Agriculture @ Texas A&M

Presently professor of plant
biology @ Arizona State

And founder and director of
the Arizona Biodesign Institute
in Tempe

The problem @ hand

Unicef estimates that 30 million infants
go without basic immunizations every

3 million of those die from
preventable disease


has been successful in producing GM
bananas that produce a protein found on
the outer surface of the Hepatitis B virus

concluded 3 early
stage clinical trials using
potatoes bearing vaccines against
hepatitis B, E. coli and the Norwalk virus

goal is dry powder or baby food puree
form of vaccine

Other innovations

in the works

Potatoes carrying insulin:
Loma Linda
University in California

Corn that staves off intestinal pathogens:
Iowa State

Corn geared toward cystic fybrosis:
Meristem Therapeutics in France

Early stage clinical trials with herpes
monoclonal antibody growth in corn:
Epicyte Pharmaceuticals in San Diego


Small crops, big results:
Arntzen estimates he could
vaccinate all of China against Hepatitis B using 125 acres

No need for sterile injections or refrigerated

No need to worry about acquiring the disease
from the vaccine:
genetically engineered vaccines
cannot cause the disease because the engineered
bacteria cell or plant is just creating a protein that exists on
the surface of a virus

not the whole virus


“I don’t see that every village in Africa or
Latin America is going to have a
pharmaceutical banana tree.”

Charles Arntzen

Treated like any other pharmaceutical or herbal

Strict regulations preventing cross



Let’s define


the use of plants
to remove pollutants from the environment
and render them harmless


the actual
removing of the pollutants


Work on this began in the 1980s

Scientists noticed that some plants could
take in toxic metals that would kill other

Scientist theorized that these plants could
be used to clean contaminated land
cheaply and more naturally

A tree

The Basics

Giant webs of roots act as a solar powered pump
to withdraw, concentrate and transport essential
elements and compounds from the soil and water

This also absorbs the contaminates

The pollutants are drawn up into the harvestable
part of the plant

The plant is then harvested and disposed of

The land or aquifer will eventually become

How phytoextraction works

What can be taken in

by the roots?

Heavy metal concentrations of lead,
uranium, and cadmium


Petroleum products

It can even be used to clean the
urban city air

Roots can clean the air

you say?

House plants foliage is capable of
removing low levels of pollution

Plant roots, assisted by a carbon filter,
are able to remove much higher
concentration of pollution

They can remove:



carbon dioxide

carbon monoxide

other gases

chemicals from
detergents, solvents,
and cleaning fluids

fibers released from
clothing, furnishings,
draperies, glass,
carpets, and insulation

fungi and bacteria

tobacco smoke

More benefits

Plants in urban areas absorb the extra carbon
and use it for photosynthesis

Leaves also collect dust until it is washed off by
rain, by adding more foliage dust can be
reduced by 75%

During photosynthesis, tree foliage also
removes from the atmosphere other
chemicals, such as nitrogen oxides, airborne
ammonia, some sulfur dioxide, and ozone,
that are part of the smog and greenhouse
effect problems

Working Phytoremediation

At UGA Om Dhankher has successfully
engineered tobacco and other hearty plants to
not only absorb arsenic but also to combine it
with other proteins that would render it non

He hopes that future generations of these plants
will be able to absorb 50 times the heavy metals
they do today

Indian Mustard (Brassica Juncea L.) has already
successfully removed lead from contaminated

It has even removed uranium

Problems with acceptance

EPA has not fully accepted this as a
way of cleaning up after ourselves

Phytoremediation has yet to gain a
proven track record with clean ups,
but is still being perfected


There is also an economic side to acceptance

Landowners contract clean
up through large

These companies receive a percentage of the
cost of clean up which would be in the 10’s of
millions of dollars

Why would they want to endorse a much
cheaper way of doing things?


Phytoremediation also takes much

It can take up to 100 years to clean a

For this reason it is better to use on a
small lot of land that is not heavily
contaminated until the technology
can be perfected

Biotech scare stories

Maybe you’ve heard in the news about biotech
corn that:

threatened monarch butterflies

snuck its way into the food supply and tainted

overtook native maize crops in Mexico

Not true.

You never hear the rest of the story.

You don’t hear about the scientist’s findings that
conclude these rumors to be shady

“An extensive review of 250 scientific
publications which address issues of the
impacts of GM crops has concluded that
many of the concerns which are featured
prominently in media coverage do not
stand up to careful scrutiny.”

Life Sciences Network

(the review appeared in the January edition of

The Plant Journal)

Europe vs.

Genetically Modified Foods


1998 ban of GMs

Lack of confidence in their regulatory
system after the Mad Cow Disease fiasco

main objective is to protect the fine
quality and flavor of food


Why 3

World countries need
Europe to cooperate

“Europe seems to be inward looking when
producing biotech legislation. But any rules
set in Brussels will affect the small scale
farmer in Africa or India.”

Simon Barber

Director of the Plant Biotech Unit at EuropaBio

“We are here to tell our part of the story. In Europe

biotechnology seems to be more about ideology

than about rational choice. For us biotech is an

important tool to fight hunger and malnutrition. We

do not want to be a pawn in the transatlantic trade

squabble. We have our own voice and want to

make our own decisions on how to use this new


Professor James Ochanda

Coordinator Biotechnology Laboratory

University of Nairobi, Kenya

Brussels, January 29, 2003

The governments of several countries in

Southern Africa have declared
national disasters due to the food
security crisis

What about the millions of
malnourished people whose
lives could be