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Plant biotechnology

 

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Plant biotechnology, in the broadest sense, employs a range of biological, chemical, and engineering disciplines to develop the use of plant organisms in agricultural and industrial processes.

The most obvious use of plant products in traditional biotechnology was for food. Over the centuries, farmers have learned to select edible crops for yield and quality. New and even better varieties were produced when early humans learned to cross-pollinate plants and became plant breeders. Early humans also exploited plants in other ways. In the beginning it was for fuel and clothing, but as time went on plants provided vegetable dyes for colouring, herbs, spices, drugs, perfumes, rubber, flavourings, oils, waxes, and a host of other products.

Although biotechnology has been with us for a long time, it is only now receiving the interest of the general public. This new interest in biotechnology is due to the revolution in molecular biology that has occurred over the last 30 to 40 years. Advances in DNA technology have made it possible to move genes between widely divergent organisms, creating new combinations of trits never before possible to move genes between widely divergent organisms, creating new combinations of traits never before possible in nature. These advances were originally developed for use in the laboratory where they revolutionized our ability to ask questions – and obtain meaningful answers - about fundamental biological problems. However, this new technology is now being exploited by industry, where the economic potential is immense.

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