Agricultural Biotechnology

CONCEPTS, EVOLUTION, AND APPLICATIONS

Maria José de O. Zimmermann1 and Enrico Porceddu2

'FAO-OCD, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Roma, Italia; 2 Genetica Agraria, Universita délia Tuscia, Viterbo, Italia.

Abstract: Without being exhaustive, this chapter covers the main principles that are the basis of all methods of genetic improvement and relates these principles to the modern methods of plant biotechnology. It explains why the modern procedures are an extension of the old principles and how they fit together. Besides it discusses evolution and its relation with plant improvement and with biotechnology. It also discusses most of the regular biosafety concerns that relate to genetically modified organisms and shows that in many cases these concerns can be dealt with by the knowledge of the biology and evolution of the species that was modified. It also shows that some of the biosafety concerns are true for any new genotype, be it genetically modified or not. It ends by assessing the current status of agricultural biotechnology and by addressing the implications drawn for its application to developing countries.

Key words: biosafety; biotechnology; evolution; genetically modified organisms; plant improvement.

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