Advantage and Disadvantage of Agriculture
Role and impact of biotechnology in modern agriculture
Biotechnology offers prospects in addressing problems concerned with agricultural productivity and environmental safety. In order to cope up with the ever-increasing population of the current world, biotechnological intervention to supplement conventional plant breeding efforts is indispensable. Some of the issues that can be addressed using biotechnological techniques are crop production of superior quality, mass production of uniform planting materials, compensate land shortages and genetic improvement of the plant.
A few of the advantages perceived in the use of biotechnology in agriculture are rapid multiplication of plant species, breeding of resistant varieties, diagnosis and control of disease in crop and livestock, utilization of crop residues and animal waste. Some of the disadvantages are high cost of research and development, endangering biodiversity, genetic erosion and lack of access for poor farmers to use new varieties. Thus, in introducing biotechnology in agriculture, it is vitally important to study and assess the overall circumstances, such as cost effectiveness and impact on environment.
Agriculture is of primary importance in the National Development Program
Biotechnology, as a new frontier in agricultural sciences, has opened new avenues for the solution of agricultural problems. The application of biotechnology in agriculture offers many possibilities for filling the gaps found in conventional research methods and is, therefore, not intended to replace all conventional methods, but to provide a more reliable approach in achieving economic gains.
Many new tools are now available, particularly from research in the areas of molecular biology, genetic engineering, and cell and tissue culture as well as from intensive application of microbial technology. The initiation of research and development in agricultural biotechnology dates back to the late 1970s when tissue culture techniques such as embryo culture and anther culture were first introduced as means to produce virus-free crops and improve crop quality in the production of vegetables, flowers and fruit trees.
Virus free potatoes, garlic and strawberry are already in the market for farmers. Production of high yielding rice varieties are good examples of success achieved by the use of anther culture techniques in rice varietal improvement. Various technical barriers that have to be overcome are the establishment of transformation systems in agriculturally important food crops and regeneration of fertile plants from transgenic plants.
In the areas of gene manipulation and transformation, well-trained scientists are needed. Most of the laboratories involved in plant biotechnology carry out tissue culture research, mainly the development of media protocols for micropropagation. Over the years, methodologies for disease elimination by meristem culture and/or micropropagation and in vitrogermplasm conservation have been developed for fruit crops (banana, strawberry, and pineapple), root and tuber crops (potato and sweet potato), ornamentals, cut flowers (orchids, lilies) and a few medicinal plants.
Research is also underway to perfect micropropagation technology for tree species that are endemic. Tea, potato and banana are being produced on a commercial scale using established micropropagation techniques. A near commercial line of sugarcane, resistant to smut, has been produced through in vitromutagenesis. Molecular biology approaches for crop improvement have been conducted with little success. Evidently, all the countries have been able to recognize their objectives and goals more clearly in the use of biotechnology in agriculture and have initiated appropriate policies to meet some of the challenges posed by critical areas in directing future development. It is hoped that biotechnological approaches in agriculture will provide ways and means of utilizing its full potential to benefit the community.