|The benefits of biotechnology, today and in the future, are nearly limitless.
Plant biotechnology offers the potential to produce crops that not only taste better but are also healthier.
Agronomic or "input" traits create value by giving plants the ability to do things that increase production or reduce the need for other inputs such as chemical pesticides or fertilisers. Our current products with input traits include potatoes, corn and soybeans that produce better yields with fewer costly inputs through better control of pests and weeds. Already, farmers in Romania are growing potatoes that use 40% less chemical insecticides than would be possible using traditional techniques.
Quality traits -- or "output" traits -- help create value for consumers by enhancing the quality of the food and fibre produced by the plant. Likely future offerings include potatoes that will absorb less oil when fried, corn and soya beans with an increased protein content, tomatoes with a fresher flavour and corn and sweet potatoes that contain high levels of amino acids, such as lysine.
Someday, seeds will become the ultimate energy-efficient, environmentally friendly production facilities that can manufacture products which are today made from nonrenewable resources. An oilseed rape plant, for example, could serve as a factory to add beta carotene to canola oil to alleviate the nutritional deficiency that causes night blindness.
"GM plants could nevertheless provide a means of significantly improving human health, first of all by supplying better quality food. Plants could be deprived of their most harmful ingredients (such as lipids which are bad for cholesterol) or enriched with molecules of nutritional benefit, the latter of particular benefit to southern countries. European laboratories recently developed a 'golden rice' enriched with carotene. This molecule is a precursor of vitamin A and could therefore help correct the nutritional deficiencies affecting millions of people. Another example is research aimed at increasing the lycopene content of tomatoes. This molecule has beneficial anti-oxidising effects which reduce the risk of prostate tumours." http://europa.eu.int
See also 2001 report by Philippe Busquin, EU Research Commissioner "GMO research in perspective".
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