Why Is Biotechnology A Game Changer in Agriculture?

A number of factors, such as the rising need for food products, growing population, surging per capita income, increasing demand for transgenic crops, and high yield of biotech crops, are projected to drive the growth of the agricultural biotechnology market at a CAGR of 10.7% during the forecast period (2021–2030). The market generated $39,565.6 million in 2020, and it is expected to reach $106,870.0 million by 2030.

Modern biotechnology characteristically contemplates the natural processes of DNA imitation, breakage, ligation, and repair. This has given a better understanding of the mechanism of cell biology, in addition to its genetic procedure and how it can be useful to disciplines including medicine, plant, food science, and agrarian practices. Within agriculture, the major goal of modern biotechnology is to advance the quality, quantity, nourishment, taste, and shelf life of crops, eventually allowing shareholders to obtain greater productivity with reduced energy costs.

This comprises agricultural procedures dating from antiquity, such as fermentation, and evolving disease-resistant plant varieties through the process of crossbreeding. With the increase in the consciousness regarding healthy living, the agricultural biotechnology market valued $39,565.6 million in 2020, which is expected to grow at a 10.7% CAGR during 2021–2030 and reach $106,870.0 million.

GM Crops Increasing Efficiency of Farming

GM crops are majorly grown to help agriculturalists avert crop damage in the event of a drought, excessive rain, hail, and snow; extremely high or low temperature, or other uncontrollable events. The three key traits of these crops are:

  • Resistance to insects

  • Tolerance to weedkillers

  • Resistance to plant diseases

For genetically modified crops resilient to insects, lower amounts of pesticides have to be sprayed. GM crops that are lenient with weedkillers help farmers regulate weeds without any damage to the crops. Moreover, herbicide-tolerant crops do not require soil tilling, which is normally done to eliminate weeds. This helps preserve the health of the soil and lower the use of labor.

Genetic Engineering Offering Newer Avenues for Farmers and Researchers

Plant transformation and genetic engineering have played an essential role in crop improvement, by introducing useful foreign genes. Nearly 525 different transgenic procedures in 32 crops have been accepted for cultivation around the world. The acceptance of the transgenic technology has surged crop yields, lessened pesticide and insecticide use, diminished CO2 emissions, and reduced crop production costs. Though, transgenic crops with foreign genes have toxicity and allergy risks and environmental risks, such as chances of gene flow and herbicide resistance in insects and weeds, which have encouraged the adoption of genome editing to develop crops free from any foreign gene.

Biotechnology Has Tremendous Potential in Feeding the World

Malnutrition can be directly related to hunger. The Food and Agriculture Organization states that 854 million people all around the globe are malnourished. Most of them who are underfed, children being the most-noticeable sufferers, live in emerging economies. Undernutrition amplifies the influence of every illness, including malaria and measles.

Biotechnology has a lot of potential for the evolving world, as high-yielding crops will improve poverty mitigation, food security, and ecological conservation. GM crops produce more harvest on a smaller land, which will increase efficiency and may offer a means of sustainable development and decrease hunger. Around 90% of the total 13.3 million biotech crop farmers hail from developing countries. India, with 7.6 million hectares of land, is fourth-largest country in terms of biotech crop cultivation.

Adoption of Biofuels Presents Further Opportunities for Agricultural Biotechnology R&D

The global increase in the requirement for biofuels is because they are cleaner than conventional fuels, emitting lower amounts of contaminants. Therefore, the advanced nations of North America and Europe are increasingly adopting biofuels, mainly produced via the usage of biotechnology. The USDA has projected that 1 billion dry tons of biomass per year is required to replace 30% of transportation fuels by volume with biofuels. As per the agency, this amount could be produced by 2050, backed by extensive R&D and sustainable farming practices.

Role of Biochips in Widening Application Biotechnology in Agriculture

The progress of biochips offers a push to the usage of biotechnology in agriculture, which includes proteomics, genomics, computational biology, and pharmaceuticals. Advances in these areas have given scientists new methods for unraveling the compound biochemical procedures within cells, with the goal of comprehending and treating human diseases. 

Simultaneously, the semiconductor business has been gradually perfecting the art of microminiaturization. The integration of these two fields has allowed biotechnologists to pack bulky sensing tools into biochips. These miniaturized laboratories can perform numerous instantaneous biochemical reactions, thereby allowing researchers to screen large numbers of biological analytes for diseases, to find bioterrorism agents.

Hence, with advancements in technology, agriculture has benefitted a great deal. Now, it is possible to produce larger quantities on a considerably smaller piece of land and, that too, free from weeds and diseases, credited to the widening scope of biotechnology in the agrarian field.

Source: P&S Intelligence

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