History and Uses of Plant Biotechnology

Andrzej Czaplicki, Jaroslava Ovesna, Gert E. de Vries The improvement of plants for food production and the use of conservation methods have been in practice as long as humans settled down to rely on agriculture for sustenance. The techniques and successes of traditional plant breeding have, in the past, evolved gradually. With the advent of genetics, the advancements have accelerated and allowed us in the 1960s to greatly increase the productivity of our land. This enabled many countries, for...

Vitamins Golden Rice

A vast range of scientific studies are concerned with the role of enhanced levels of vitamins and trace elements.Vitamin E, zinc and selenium are suggest to lower the risk of heart disease and possibly improve immunity, as well as fight against Alzheimer's disease. A consensus still seems far away and a healthy, diverse diet would probably be the best choice. However, it is quite possible that certain individuals, or population groups, would benefit from foods with health-promoting elements or...

Basic Facts About GM Crops

Genetic engineering of crops is a new addition to traditional plant breeding. It is part of our quest to grow more and better food for our growing population. The total area under genetically modified (GM) crop cultivation has been steadily expanding with, however, a marked slowdown in the last few years. Soybean, corn and cotton are the most extensively cultivated GM crops. Europe grows less than 0.5 of the world's GM crops, mainly because of the de facto moratorium imposed on GM crops in...

Herbicide Tolerance

From the very beginning of agriculture farmers have had to fight weeds in order to prevent them from overgrowing cultivated crops. In the nineteenth century, chemical substances (herbicides) were discovered that would inhibit or arrest the growth of weeds. Herbicide use became current practice in the last few decades but, while improving crop yields worldwide, some chemicals caused serious environmental problems. Continuous use of herbicides also caused that some weeds adopted...

Therapeutic and Diagnostic Antibodies

An alternative to immunisation, and thus to relying on antibody production in the patients, is the direct administration of appropriate antibodies to treat a disease (passive immunisation). Such antibodies can also be used for diagnostic testing. The ability of plants to produce functional monoclonal antibodies, so-called plantibodies opens the way for the establishment of an efficient and inexpensive method of immune protection against a number of diseases. Only a limited number of antibodies...