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Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.”Biotechnology on one hand offers significant opportunities to enhance agricultural productivity and food security through disease-resistant varieties of plants and animals. Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bio-products.The concept encompasses a wide range of procedures (and history) for modifying living organisms according to human purposes – going back to domestication of animals, cultivation of plants, and “improvements” to these through breeding programs that employ artificial selection and hybridization.ApplicationsBiotechnology has applications in four major industrial areas, including health care (medical), crop production and agriculture, non food (industrial) uses of crops and other products (e.g. biodegradable plastics, vegetable oil, bio fuels), and environmental uses.Green biotechnologyGreen biotechnology is biotechnology applied to agricultural processes. One hope is that green biotechnology might produce more environmentally friendly solutions than traditional industrial agriculture. An example of this is the engineering of a plant to express a pesticide, thereby ending the need of external application of pesticidesCrop yieldUsing the techniques of modern biotechnology, one or two genes may be transferred to a highly developed crop variety to impart a new character that would increase its yield. However, while increases in crop yield are the most obvious applications of modern biotechnology in agriculture, it is also the most difficult one. Current genetic engineering techniques work best for effects that are controlled by a single gene. Many of the genetic characteristics associated with yield (e.g., enhanced growth) are controlled by a large number of genes, each of which has a minimal effect on the overall yield. There is, therefore, much scientific work to be done in this area.•Reduced vulnerability of crops to environmental stresses•Increased nutritional qualities•Improved taste, texture or appearance of food•Reduced dependence on fertilizers, pesticides and other agrochemicals•Production of novel substances in crop plantsDETAILBiotechnology has considerable potential for promoting the efficiency of crop improvement, food production, and poverty reduction. Use of modern biotechnology started in Pakistan since 1985. Currently, there are 29 biotech centers/institutes in the country. However, few centers have appropriate physical facilities and trained manpower to develop genetically modified (GM) crops. Most of the activities have been on rice and cotton, which are among the top 5 crops of Pakistan. Biotic (virus/bacterial/insect) and abiotic (salt) resistant and quality (male sterility) genes have already been incorporated in some crop plants. Despite acquiring capacity to produce transgenic plants, no GM crops, either produced locally or imported, have been released in the country.The major crops grown are wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, and maize. Gram and other pulses, oil seeds, and fodder crops are also grown in different parts of the country on sizeable areas. In Pakistan, the average yields of crops, despite rapid increase in the Green Revolution era, are still low compared to other countries. A large gap exists between the potential and realized yield for almost all the major crops. With a few exceptions, the average yield of most of the crops is either stagnant or has even declined during the last decade, while input costs and amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. continued to increase. The agricultural production system in the country can operate on sound scientific and stable bases only if farm technology is kept in tune with the changing environmental and socio-economic conditions through an efficient and dynamic agricultural research system (ARS). Biotechnology is one of the recently emerging sciences that developed very quickly in different fields affecting human life. It shows a huge potential in helping mankind solve problems that are difficult to deal with using traditional methods. This science has passed the period of academic study and has reached the phase of practical application on a large scale. In agriculture, biotechnology has been applied in different fields, including the production of genetically modified (GM) crops. Biotechnology has considerable potential for promoting the efficiency of crop improvement, food production, and poverty reduction, especially in developing countries like Pakistan.
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