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Agricultural Biotechnology: History, Science, and Society (October 2013): Conclusion

By Brian R. Shmaefsky


Agricultural biotechnology is a continuously growing discipline that blends traditional agricultural practices with state-of-the-art developments in genetics and molecular biology.  The earliest agricultural biotechnology applications supplanted selective breeding by using genetic engineering to rapidly produce animals and plants with desirable traits.  Genetic engineering and cloning even permitted the mixing of traits between different organisms to produce transgenic animals and plants with characteristics that could not be achieved with breeding.  The new traits imparted in agricultural biotechnology organisms are aimed at improving quality and yield while minimizing the use of traditional agricultural practices that consume energy and pollute the environment.  However, as numerous books, articles, and other publications illustrate, this new field is not lacking in critics.  Economic, ethical, legal, and safety concerns haunt each new agricultural biotechnology development, and will continue to do so in the future.