another without sexual crossing. This mayinclude transgenes
the moving of one genefrom one species into another or therearranging of one species
own genes(commonly referred to as
In the debate, these three forms are often confounded.This chapter focuses on the second and third. Theterms
are often interchanged, and are used inreferences to GE and GM crops and plants. These areall
genetically modified organisms
, a term that refersto any organism, plant or animal, that has beensomehow modified at the genetic level.
Development and status of plant biotechnology
Despite the media frenzy in Europe and growingattention in North America, most people do notrealise the extent and range of biotechnology and its
D I G I T U P : G L O B A L C I V I L S O C I E T Y ’ S R E S P O N S E S T O P L A N T B I O T E C H N O L O G Y D i a n e O s g o o d
Box 4.1:Timeline of plant biotechnology development
Genetic engineering (GE) invented byCohen and Boyer. Demonstrations againstGE in the United States.
Asilomar conference in California,scientists agree to adopt strict, self-imposed guidelines for laboratory DNAmanipulation. Building blocks of understanding DNA (Late Cot and Rotcurves) develop. It emerges that plantscontain a complex set of nuclear RNAsand that only 25 per cent of thiscomplexity has been previously under-stood. As well, many genes are active inplant cells and are highly regulated in theplant life cycle. In sum, it becomes clearthat plant cells resemble animals cells,but it remains unknown how individualgenes are regulated or how sets of genesco-express in space and time.
Dr Bedrock and colleagues in UK showplant DNA can be cloned and replicatedin bacteria.
Start of creating libraries of plantgenomes.
Group of scientists from Ghent (Belgium),St Louis (Missouri), and Washington/Cambridge (Massachusetts) showindependently that antibiotic resistancemarkers work. Dr Hall transfers one genefrom French bean into sunflower cells,
plant created. Cover of
New York Times
Dr Feldman and colleaguesdiscover for the first time a relativelysimple way to clone plant genesassociated with interesting mutantphenotypes. This greatly speeds up thetechnology process.
US regulation simplifies approval processfor biotechnology products and confirmsthat no labels are required on products.
First crop released and planted in smallquantities in Canada.
First significant commercial plantings inthe US. Plantings also in China,Argentina, and Canada.
Consumer boycotts in Europe gatherspeed; test plots destroyed in Europe andIndia.
First significant anti-biotechnologydemonstrations in US (Boston); firstcommercial plantings in Europe; farmersgather in India and try to burn downMonsanto headquarters.
First plant genome sequenced, theArabidopsis. Three-year moratorium inEurope for commercial plantings;biotechnology industries launch
information campaign in the US.
The genome of rice sequenced; Japan,Australia, New Zealand, and many othercountries regulate labelling; demon-strations in the Philippines againstplanting of GM crops.
Goldberg (2001) and EC (2000).