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TRANSGENIC CROPS-OECD - Biological Resource...

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Biological Resource Management -Connecting Science and Policy. Eds: Balazs, E., Galante, E., Lynch, J.M., Schepers, J.S., Toutant, J.-P., Werner, D., Werry, P.A.T.J. , Springer, Berlin. TRANSGENIC CROPS: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND PROSPECTS Tsaftaris A. S., Polidoros A. N., Karavangeli M., Nianiou-Obeidat I., Madesis P., and Goudoula C. Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54006 Thessaloniki, Greece. ABSTRACT It is now more than fifteen years since the first transgenic plants were generated experimentally. In that period there have been dramatic advances in our understanding on both basic and applied aspects of plant biology. Transgenic plant research depends on the availability of procedures for plant transformation. Two types of method for plant transformation exist, the use of Agrobacterium as a biological vector for foreign gene transfer, and direct gene transfer techniques, in which DNA is introduced into cells by the use of physical, electrical or chemical means. Agrobacterium can be used to transform a wide range of plants, but there are α number of species which are of interest for basic or applied research in which of Agrobacterium - mediated transformation is not reproducible or efficient. Using this procedures thousands of transgenic crops have been developed experimentally or field tested, while few of them are currently cultivated world wide, predominately on temperate zone crops and on conditions prevailing in industrial countries offering the potential increasing and improving food production capacity while limiting the use of agrochemicals and protect the environment. The " first generation " of transgenic crops were aimed at improving traits involving single genes. Now we are on the verge of a new step in crop modification, fueled by the rate at which new genes ( important for plant growth and development metabolism and stress tolerance ) characterised. Transgenic technology has been pivotal in the full spectrum of these new developments, from gene identification to an improved understanding of their regulation, as well as genetic transformation involving more complex transfers of many genes simultaneously. This will further help in managing natural resources like water, soil, e.t.c. in a better way. Our view of the nature of crop products can also be expected to change in the short to medium term, as plants are exploited for the production of novel compounds such as biodegradable plastics and new pharmaceuticals. However, it is the case that the extent to which the potential of transgenic research is realised will depend on public acceptance. To a significant extent this will require that the biology of transgenics is fully understood, and that a maximum degree of predictability of transgene effect, both phenotypic and genotypic, can be ensured. There is a need for diffusing this technology to tropical plants and adapt it to benefice the small farmer in the developing world were food demands will increase.
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