Critical role of plant biotechnology for the genetic improvement of food crops: perspectives for the next millennium
This article reviews some of the highlights of modern plant biotechnology and discusses the potential applications of biotechnology in the betterment of farming systems in the next millennium. Plant biotechnology will facilitate the farming of crops with multiple durable resistance to pests and diseases, particularly in the absence of pesticides. Likewise, transgenes or marker-assisted selection may assist in the development of high yielding crops, which will be needed to feed the world and save land for the conservation of plant biodiversity in natural habitats. Hence, crops should be engineered to meet the demands and needs of consumers. The genetic base of crop production can be preserved and widen by an integration of biotechnology tools in conventional breeding. Similarly targeting specific genotypes to particular cropping systems may be facilitated by understanding specific gene-by-environment interaction(s) with the aid of molecular research. High quality crops with improved nutritional and health characteristics as well as other aspects of added-value may be obtained through multidisciplinary co-operation among plant breeders, biotechnologists, and other plant scientists. Co-ordinated efforts between consumers, policy makers, farmers and researchers will be required to convert the various aspects of a crop ideotype into components of new and improved farming systems of the next millennium.