Transgenics in agriculture

Published on July 1, 2014   37 min

A selection of talks on Plant & Animal Sciences

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Hello. My name is Wendy Harwood. I'm a senior scientist at the John Innes Center, Norwich in the UK. I'm going to talk to you today about transgenics in agriculture. And I'm going to be focusing specifically on transgenic crops.
So in my talk today I'm going to start off by just giving some definitions. What do we mean by transgenic or genetically modified crops? I'm going to look at a comparison of traditional plant breeding to GM technology. I'm going to look at the actual technology that we use to produce GM crops, and what that means. Then, look at GM crops worldwide. And at the end I'm going to look at what's in the pipeline. What are the new things that are coming along that might be important for us in the future? And I'm going to end with looking at some new technologies that are referred to as new plant breeding techniques. So this, if you like, is just moving on the next stage from traditional GM technology.
So firstly, genetic modification. So the genetic modification process produces transgenic plants. What we mean by genetic modification is making an alteration in the DNA of a plant to another organism to give it a new and useful characteristic. So GM technology allows the introduction and the functional expression of foreign genes in plant cells. I often say GM technology is all around us. So GM is being used in many applications. So for example, the production of very common drugs like insulin. It's commonly used in the production of cheese. These are GM processes using genetically modified microbes. So normally GM we think about adding an additional gene. And it can often mean adding one additional gene to a plant genome that already consists of maybe between 25,000 and 95,000 genes, so adding one additional gene to that already huge number.