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Applications of Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

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  • Difficulty Level : Basic
  • Last Updated : 06 Aug, 2022
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Genetic Engineering is the process of modifying an organism through the artificial manipulation, reconfiguration, and replication of DNA or other molecules such as nucleic acids. DNA, also known as Deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule that carries genetic information for the development and functioning of an organism. Genetic engineering, also known as genetic modification, enables scientists to transfer genes from one organism to another. Humans, animals, and plants are examples of these organisms. Thus, genetic modification refers to the transfer of desired genes from one organism to another. This process of genetic modification aids in the creation of new foods by introducing the desired gene into the body, resulting in faster growth.

Genetic engineering is changing the way we produce food by allowing for rapid increases in crop yields as well as the prevention of droughts and natural disasters. GMOs are reducing the amount of pesticides that must be sprayed while also increasing crop yield. GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are organisms whose genes have been altered through the process of genetic engineering. In the field of medical sciences, genetic engineering is also yielding fruitful results. Scientists have already demonstrated that genetic engineering can cure diseases such as cancer and address environmental issues. With genetic engineering technology, scientists can study the entire target gene, allowing them to create drugs, many lifesaving vaccines, and reduce pesticide use.

Advantages of Genetic Engineering:

Detection of disease in children and the unborn: Genetic engineering allows us to identify diseases in both small children and unborn babies. For example, Huntington’s disease is a disease that can be passed down from parents to children, and thanks to genetic engineering, doctors can now detect the disease even in an unborn baby and begin treatment right away, allowing the baby to live longer.
Production of New Foods: Scientists can design food in the way they want with the help of genetic engineering. For example, we can modify a fruit’s gene to withstand extremely harsh climatic conditions, which will help us in the future if we suffer from natural disasters such as droughts and tsunamis. Scientists can also create food with higher medicinal and nutritional values, allowing both animals and humans to live longer and healthier lives.
Capability to live longer: We already know that humans live longer than any other organism on the planet. One of the primary reasons for this is genetic engineering. As previously discussed, genetic engineering can help us create food with higher nutritional and medical values, allowing humans to live much longer on the planet.
Altering growth in Plants: We know that genetic engineering has the ability to modify genes as needed, which allows scientists to modify the genes of plants in such a way that the plant can grow faster than before and can withstand harsh climatic conditions, allowing the plant to survive and produce more crop yield.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Pest Resistance: Plants are primarily used for genetic engineering modification. Scientists can change the genes of plants to make them more resistant to pesticides using genetic engineering technology. Designing plants to withstand harsh climatic conditions and to be resistant to various diseases benefits both the earth’s environment and crop production.

Applications of Genetic Engineering in Agriculture:

Let us first examine why genetic engineering is required in agriculture. Genetic engineering contributes to overall crop production growth by increasing medicinal and nutritional value. It assists scientists in designing plants that can withstand dangerous diseases and harsh climatic conditions. We can use genetic engineering in agriculture in a variety of ways, including:

A. Crop Improvement:

One of the most significant benefits of genetic engineering in agriculture is increased crop production. Scientists can use genetic engineering to increase crop yields, lower food costs, improve food quality, food security, and medicinal value. All of this is possible with genetic engineering in agricultural crops, as scientists can change the genes of crops to meet all of the above requirements. Thus, genetic engineering is important in crop improvement.

B. Herbicide Resistance:

Herbicide is a substance that is toxic to plants and is primarily used to destroy undesirable plants. The ability to survive herbicide exposure is referred to as herbicide resistance. Herbicides are essential in modern agricultural practice, and there is a strong desire to develop less toxic substances. So developing herbicide-resistant plants is a major goal of genetic engineering, and here are a few reasons why:
• Herbicide resistance can be achieved by transferring a single gene to plants. This is critical because the transfer of more than one gene to plants remains an unsolved problem. 
• The use of herbicide resistant plants provides additional benefits to framers by reducing and simplifying the use of herbicides.
Herbicide resistance plants are not new to farmers, but their use is becoming increasingly popular. However, their application is limited. In today’s world, genetic engineering is also assisting scientists in the transfer of resistance to non-herbicide plants.

C. Insect Resistance:

In India today, a greater percentage of agricultural losses are attributed to crop damage caused by insects. We can use genetic engineering to introduce a new sequence of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) into plants, making them more resistant to insects. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops, for example, are genetically engineered crops that contain bacterium crystal toxins that make them more resistant to other insects. Thus, genetic engineering can be used to create plants or crops that are resistant to insects.

D. Virus Resistance:

Plant virus disease control has involved a variety of agricultural implementations and strategies, with varying degrees of success. Fortunately, with the advancement of genetic engineering, scientists are now able to produce more promising results in terms of virus resistance in plants. The expression of a coat protein sequence in plants with a protein gene is currently the most successful virus resistance method in plants. Plants responded positively to the virus using this method. More research is being conducted to develop a more simplified method of introducing the protein gene into plants in order to make them more resistant to viruses.

E. Delayed Fruit Ripening:

Fruit ripening is another major issue in the agricultural sector. Fruit ripening can be delayed using genetic engineering. To delay the ripening of the fruit, it is best to store it in cold temperatures, preferably in freezers. To delay the fruit ripening with genetic engineering, the enzyme ACC oxidase catalyzes the oxidation of ACC to ethylene, the final step in the ethylene biosynthetic pathway. Down regulation of the ACC oxidase gene via anti-sense technology results in suppression of ethylene production, delaying fruit ripening.

F. Frost Resistance:

We know that plants can withstand a certain temperature, and that if the temperature falls below that threshold, the plant dies. For example, a normal seed plant can withstand temperatures as low as -1 degrees Celsius; however, if the temperature drops below -4 degrees Celsius, the plant freezes and dies. We can use genetic engineering to change the genes of plants so that the seed plant can withstand negative temperatures, giving the plant the ability to withstand even harsh climatic conditions.

G. Genetically engineered foods

It is very likely that we are now eating a greater proportion of genetically engineered foods such as corn, potato, soybean, canola, and so on. Because corn crops are more susceptible to insect attack, most corn crops are genetically modified to withstand insect attack. Another advantage of genetically modified corn is that pesticides are not used to kill the insects, resulting in more natural and clean corn yields. Potatoes have also been genetically modified to resist insects and viruses. A few potatoes are also engineered to be resistant to browning that occurs when the potatoes are packed. Genetically modified canola oil is widely used in cooking, and the seeds can be fed to animals. The majority of genetically modified canola oil is herbicide resistant, allowing farmers to easily control weeds.


Today, scientists have developed crops that can withstand any disease, virus, or natural disaster. We can even diagnose diseases in the unborn baby and begin treatment right away, which benefits both the unborn baby and the mother. On the other hand, genetic modification has a negative impact on the environment and human health, such as long-term unforeseen genetic issues and pollen interfering with natural crops. Despite these drawbacks, genetic engineering is widely used because the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Many scientists have already acknowledged the problems associated with gene engineering, but nothing on the planet has no side effects. Overall, one can say that genetic engineering is one of the most significant breakthroughs in many industries, particularly agriculture.

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