Biotech Plants for Bioremediation (Pocket K No.25)
Conventional remediation for polluted sites typically involves the physical removal of contaminants, and their disposal in a designated site. Physical remediation strategies therefore do not eliminate the problem, they merely shift it. In addition, physical remediation strategies are also very expensive, disruptive to the environment, may temporarily increase exposure to chemicals, and often leave residual contamination.
Molecular Pharming and Biopharmaceuticals (Pocket K No.26)
With the advent of genetic engineering, scientists are able to engineer living organisms, from the simple yeasts to the more complex plants, to produce specific pharmaceuticals. Biopharmaceuticals are drug products (proteins, including antibodies) produced in living systems and used for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes or as dietary supplements.
Biotechnology and Biofortification (Pocket K No.27)
A major challenge of our time is that one sixth of the world’s population suffers from hunger, a situation which is totally unacceptable. In addition, many more people, over half of the global population, are afflicted by a different form of food deficiency (FAO, 2004). This “hidden hunger” is due to the quality, rather than the quantity, of the food available, and it is closely related to the fact that in many poor developing countries people rely only or mostly on low-protein staple crops for food.
Kenya Biotechnology Development Policy Highlights (Pocket K No.28)
The policy charts the vision of the Kenyan government towards the development and safe application of biotechnology. It provides those developing and applying the technology with a clear framework under which to operate. The policy commits the government to give priority to the provision of relevant institutional, infrastructural and legislative framework and, in particular, the enactment of new legislation on biosafety.
Functional Foods & Biotechnology (Pocket K No.29)
“Functional Foods” are foods or dietary components that claim to provide health benefits aside from basic nutrition1. These foods contain biologically active substances such as antioxidants that may lower the risks from certain diseases associated with aging. Examples of functional foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, soy, milk, enhanced foods and beverages and some dietary supplements.
Contributions of Agricultural Biotechnology in Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger (Pocket K No.30)
Reduction of poverty and hunger are key priorities and targets top of global agenda with year 2015 being the benchmark to reverse the trend by 50%. However, a decade after the 1996 World Food Summit, where this target was set, there are more hungry people in the world than there were then. The number is increasing at the rate of four million a year, with Africa having the largest proportion of people living in absolute poverty. Agriculture remains predominantly traditional and majority of her countries exhibit a high dependency on food aid, which accounts for a quarter of all global food aid shipments. Reversing this trend requires strategic interventions that would dramatically raise agricultural productivity while taking into consideration realities and diversity of Africa’s farming systems.
Biotechnology with Salinity for Coping in Problem Soils (Pocket K No.31)
High salinity in agricultural fields has been a problem since the beginning of cultivation practices, since the evaporation of irrigated water of poor quality leaves behind salt solutes which accumulate in the soil over time. While irrigation has made it possible to extend agriculture to semi-arid and arid areas of land, and has been partly responsible for the large increases in food production of the last 40 years, it has also resulted in large-scale water lodging and salinity.
Biotechnology for the Development of Drought Tolerant Crops (Pocket K No.32)
Global warming is also predicted to affect most severely developing countries, where agricultural systems are most vulnerable to climatic conditions and where small increases in temperature are very detrimental to productivity. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations2 estimates that by 2025 approximately 480 million people in Africa could be living in areas with very scarce water, and that as climatic conditions deteriorate, 600,000 square km currently classed as moderately constrained will become severely limited.
Communicating Crop Biotechnology (Pocket K No.33)
Crop biotechnology, while merely one of the many possible scientific options to improve agricultural productivity, has triggered increased interest in its consistent and substantial benefits. At the same time, it has sparked debate on its perceived risks and safety and is often caught in a maelstrom of controversy. Diverse issues like scientific, political, economic, ethical, cultural, and even religious viewpoints are being espoused by different stakeholders. A focus on societal and ethical implications has made it a recurring and contentious public policy issue.
RNAi for Crop Improvement (Pocket K No.34)
RNA interference (RNAi) is a method of blocking gene function by inserting short sequences of ribonucleic acid (RNA) that match part of the target gene’s sequence, thus no proteins are produced. Since Science named it as “Breakthrough of the Year” and Fortune magazine hailed it as “Biotech’s Billion Dollar Breakthrough” in 2003, RNAi has significantly gained prominence as the method of choice for researchers sleuthing the structure and function of important genes.
Bt Brinjal in India (Pocket K No.35)
Brinjal is grown on nearly 550,000 hectares in India, making the country the second largest producer after China with a 26% world production share. It is an important cash crop for more than 1.4 million small, marginal and resource-poor farmers. Brinjal, being a hardy crop that yields well even under drought conditions, is grown in almost all parts of the country. Major brinjal producing states include: West Bengal (30% production share), Orissa (20%), and Gujarat and Bihar (around 10% each). In 2005-2006, the national average productivity of brinjal was recorded around 15.6 tons per hectare.
Marker-Free GM Plants (Pocket K No.36)
The presence of these marker genes in commercialized transgenic crops has caused considerable public concern about the medical implications of GM food consumption and GM crop cultivation. Herbicide resistance genes might be transferred by outcrossing to weeds and wild crop relatives.