Plants with desirable traits are being produced since many years by conventional breeding methods, which is a lengthy method for production of new improved Plant varieties. On the contrary, genetic manipulation is a quicker process that allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between non-related species in a highly targeted manner. The major objective for developing these crops is to improve the crop yield by enhancing crop protection against various diseases caused by numerous insects and pathogens as well as environmental factors, such as drought, salinity, heat or cold stress. This can be done by genetically transferring a gene that is not native to the plant or by modifying its own genes by using various molecular biology tools and genome editing techniques. For instance, genetically modified cotton carrying the cry gene from bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, produces the Bt toxin and is resistant to insect attacks. This has highly improved the cotton production. This technique can also be used to improve the nutritional value of the crops and cereals for the consumers. For example, transgenic soybean has been developed with high oleic acid content thereby reducing the levels of harmful cholesterol. More than three-fourth of the maize produced in the western counties is genetically modified. Genetically modified maize and soybean that are resistant to the herbicide glyph sate, are also popular among farmers. The other popular transgenic crops are cotton, canola, mustard and rice. Recently, plants are being engineered to produce recombinant medicines and industrial products, such as vaccines, antibodies, bio fuels and hormones.
However, there is still a concern over the usage of the genetically manipulated crops for the dietary purpose, but these crops have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. The demand for food is continuously increasing, so there is an immediate need to produce high-yielding crop varieties that can feed the growing population. This can be achieved with the help of genetic manipulation of plants for favourable characteristics with the use of highly improved techniques like CRISPR-Cas9. Such plants and crops will play a crucial role in helping to overcome the current and future challenges in food and health issues.
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