Plant breeding

breedingplant breederplant biotechnology
The debate surrounding genetically modified food during the 1990s peaked in 1999 in terms of media coverage and risk perception, and continues today – for example, "Germany has thrown its weight behind a growing European mutiny over genetically modified crops by banning the planting of a widely grown pest-resistant corn variety." The debate encompasses the ecological impact of genetically modified plants, the safety of genetically modified food and concepts used for safety evaluation like substantial equivalence. Such concerns are not new to plant breeding.

Genetically modified maize

genetically modified cornBt cornBt maize
Corn varieties resistant to glyphosate herbicides were first commercialized in 1996 by Monsanto, and are known as "Roundup Ready Corn". They tolerate the use of Roundup. Bayer CropScience developed "Liberty Link Corn" that is resistant to glufosinate. Pioneer Hi-Bred has developed and markets corn hybrids with tolerance to imidazoline herbicides under the trademark "Clearfield" – though in these hybrids, the herbicide-tolerance trait was bred using tissue culture selection and the chemical mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate, not genetic engineering. Consequently, the regulatory framework governing the approval of transgenic crops does not apply for Clearfield.


Herbicide-resistant seed has a gene implanted into its genome that allows the plants to tolerate exposure to herbicides, including glyphosate. These seeds allow the farmer to grow a crop that can be sprayed with herbicides to control weeds without harming the resistant crop. Herbicide-tolerant crops are used by farmers worldwide. With the increasing use of herbicide-tolerant crops, comes an increase in the use of glyphosate-based herbicide sprays. In some areas glyphosate resistant weeds have developed, causing farmers to switch to other herbicides.

Genetic engineering

genetically engineeredgenetically modifiedgenetic modification
One of the best-known and controversial applications of genetic engineering is the creation and use of genetically modified crops or genetically modified livestock to produce genetically modified food. Crops have been developed to increase production, increase tolerance to abiotic stresses, alter the composition of the food, or to produce novel products. The first crops to be released commercially on a large scale provided protection from insect pests or tolerance to herbicides. Fungal and virus resistant crops have also been developed or are in development. This make the insect and weed management of crops easier and can indirectly increase crop yield.

Canola oil

canolacanola (rapeseed)canola (rapeseed) oil
The introduction of the genetically modified crop to Australia generated considerable controversy. Canola is Australia's third biggest crop, and is used often by wheat farmers as a break crop to improve soil quality. As of 2008, the only genetically modified crops in Australia were canola, cotton, and carnations. Genetically modified canola has become a point of controversy and contentious legal battles. In one high-profile case (Monsanto Canada Inc. v.

Bacillus thuringiensis

BtB. thuringiensisB . thuringiensis
For current crops and their acreage under cultivation, see genetically modified crops. In 1996, genetically modified maize producing Bt Cry protein was approved, which killed the European corn borer and related species; subsequent Bt genes were introduced that killed corn rootworm larvae. The Bt genes engineered into crops and approved for release include, singly and stacked: Cry1A.105, CryIAb, CryIF, Cry2Ab, Cry3Bb1, Cry34Ab1, Cry35Ab1, mCry3A, and VIP, and the engineered crops include corn and cotton. Corn genetically modified to produce VIP was first approved in the US in 2010.

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid

2,4-D2, 4-D2,4D
In 2010, Dow published that it had created genetically modified soybeans made resistant to 2,4-D by insertion of a bacterial aryloxyalkanoate dioxygenase gene, aad1. Dow intended it to be used as an alternative or complement to Roundup Ready crops due to the increasing prevalence of glyphosate-resistant weeds. As of April 2014, genetically modified maize and soybeans resistant to 2,4-D and glyphosate have been approved in Canada. In September 2014, the USDA also approved Dow's maize and soybeans, and in October, the EPA registered the "Enlist Duo" herbicide containing 2,4-D and glyphosate.


Agricultural Research StationNovartisNovartis Seed Co.
In 2004, Syngenta Seeds purchased Garst, the North American corn and soybean business of Advanta, as well as Golden Harvest Seeds. On 5 December 2004, the European Union ended a six-year moratorium when it approved imports of two varieties of genetically modified corn sold by Monsanto and its Swiss rival, Syngenta. In 2005, Syngenta opposed a Swiss ban on genetically engineered organisms. On 28 November 2005, Switzerland enacted a five-year ban on the farming of genetically modified crops, underscoring the problems facing the European Commission and biotech companies like Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto as they try to overcome consumer doubts about safety.


Commercial sale of genetically modified foods began in 1994, when Calgene first marketed its Flavr Savr delayed ripening tomato. To date most genetic modification of foods have primarily focused on cash crops in high demand by farmers such as soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil. These have been engineered for resistance to pathogens and herbicides and better nutrient profiles. GM livestock have also been experimentally developed; in November 2013 none were available on the market, but in 2015 the FDA approved the first GM salmon for commercial production and consumption.

Intensive crop farming

crop managementchemical agriculturecrops
In 1995, Monsanto introduced "Roundup Ready" (RR) soybeans that have had a copy of a gene from the bacterium, Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4, inserted, by means of a gene gun, into its genome that allows the transgenic plant to survive being sprayed by this non-selective herbicide, glyphosate. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, kills conventional soybeans. The bacterial gene is EPSP (= 5-enolpyruvyl shikimic acid-3-phosphate) synthase. Soybean also has a version of this gene, but the soybean version is sensitive to glyphosate, while the CP4 version is not.

DuPont Pioneer

DuPontHi-Bred Corn CompanyPioneer
Pioneer becomes the number one brand of soybeans in North America. 1992 Pioneer paid $450,000 to Monsanto for rights to genetically modified soybean seeds that are resistant to RoundUp herbicide. 1993 Pioneer paid $38 million to Monsanto for rights to Bt corn that is resistant to European corn borers. 1995 Pioneer stock is listed on the NYSE as PHYB. 1996 Pioneer acquires 20% stake in Sunseeds Co.


Soybeans are one of the "biotech food" crops that have been genetically modified, and genetically modified soybeans are being used in an increasing number of products. In 1995, Monsanto company introduced glyphosate-tolerant soybeans that have been genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto's glyphosate herbicides through substitution of the Agrobacterium sp. (strain CP4) gene EPSP (5-enolpyruvyl shikimic acid-3-phosphate) synthase. The substituted version is not sensitive to glyphosate. In 1997, about 8% of all soybeans cultivated for the commercial market in the United States were genetically modified. In 2010, the figure was 93%.


pesticidescrop sprayingchemical pesticides
Prominent families of herbicides include phenoxy and benzoic acid herbicides (e.g. 2,4-D), triazines (e.g., atrazine), ureas (e.g., diuron), and Chloroacetanilides (e.g., alachlor). Phenoxy compounds tend to selectively kill broad-leaf weeds rather than grasses. The phenoxy and benzoic acid herbicides function similar to plant growth hormones, and grow cells without normal cell division, crushing the plant's nutrient transport system. Triazines interfere with photosynthesis. Many commonly used pesticides are not included in these families, including glyphosate.

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Protection AgencyEPAU.S. Environmental Protection Agency
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization, cited research linking glyphosate, an ingredient of the weed killer Roundup manufactured by the chemical company Monsanto, to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In March 2017, the presiding judge in a litigation brought about by people who claim to have developed glyphosate-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma opened Monsanto emails and other documents related to the case, including email exchanges between the company and federal regulators.

Roundup Ready

herbicide-resistant crop plants
Roundup Ready is the Monsanto trademark for its patented line of genetically modified crop seeds that are resistant to its glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup. In 1996, genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans resistant to Roundup became commercially available, followed by Roundup Ready corn in 1998. Roundup Ready soybeans patent is due to expire in 2014. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, maize (corn), canola, sugar beets, cotton and alfalfa, with wheat still under development. For additional information on Roundup Ready crops, please consult the GM Crops List. As of 2005, 87% of U.S. soybean fields were planted with glyphosate resistant varieties.

United States

Agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP, yet the United States is the world's top producer of corn and soybeans. The National Agricultural Statistics Service maintains agricultural statistics for products that include peanuts, oats, rye, wheat, rice, cotton, corn, barley, hay, sunflowers, and oilseeds. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides livestock statistics regarding beef, poultry, pork, and dairy products. The country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified food, representing half of the world's biotech crops. Consumer spending comprises 68% of the U.S. economy in 2015.

Genetically modified wheat

GM wheattransgenic wheatwheat
The transgenic wheat that was furthest developed was Monsanto's MON 71800, which is glyphosate-resistant via a CP4/maize EPSPS gene. Monsanto received approval from the FDA for its use in food, but withdrew its EPA application in 2004, so the product was never marketed. It also received approval for use as food in Colombia. Studies conducted by Monsanto showed that its nutritional components are equivalent to nontransgenic commercially available wheat, and animal studies that have used MON 71800 for feed have confirmed this.

Sugar beet

sugar beetsbeet sugarsugarbeet
Other economically important members of the Chenopodioideae subfamily: In the United States, genetically modified sugar beets, engineered for resistance to glyphosate, a herbicide marketed as Roundup, were developed by Monsanto as a genetically modified crop. In 2005, the US Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) deregulated glyphosate-resistant sugar beets after it conducted an environmental assessment and determined glyphosate-resistant sugar beets were highly unlikely to become a plant pest.

Genetically modified organism

genetically modified organismsGMOgenetically modified
Its socioeconomic spread has been more even, with approximately 54% of worldwide GM crops grown in developing countries in 2013. The majority of GM crops have been modified to be resistant to selected herbicides, usually a glyphosate or glufosinate based one. Genetically modified crops engineered to resist herbicides are now more available than conventionally bred resistant varieties; in the USA 93% of soybeans and most of the GM maize grown is glyphosate tolerant. Most currently available genes used to engineer insect resistance come from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium in the form of delta endotoxin genes known as cry proteins.

Gilles-Éric Séralini

On 19 September 2012, Séralini and his colleagues published a peer-reviewed paper funded by CRIIGIN titled "Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize" in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT). It involved a two-year study of genetically modified corn and the herbicide RoundUp fed to rats. At a press conference announcing his paper, Séralini emphasized the study's potential cancer implications. Photographs from the journal article of treated rats with large tumors were widely circulated in the press. In November 2013, the FCT editors retracted the paper, with the editor-in-chief saying that its results were inconclusive.

Genetically modified soybean

soybeanRoundup Ready soybeanglyphosate-resistant soybean
GM crops also are involved in controversies over GM food with respect to whether food produced from GM crops is safe and whether GM crops are needed to address the world's food needs. See the genetically modified food controversies article for discussion of issues about GM crops and GM food. These controversies have led to litigation, international trade disputes, and protests, and to restrictive legislation in most countries. *Vistive Gold * List of approved varieties


Badische Anilin- und Soda-FabrikBASF Cassetten Team GS SportBASF Corporation
BASF supplies agricultural products and chemicals including fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and seed treatment products. The company also researches nutrigenomics. BASF opened a new crop protection technology center in Limburgerhof, Germany in 2016. BASF is cooperating with Monsanto Company in research, development and marketing of biotechnology. The BASF Plant Science subsidiary produces the Amflora and Starch Potato genetically modified potato with reduced amylose. In 2010 BASF conducted Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs approved trials of genetically modified potatoes in the United Kingdom. Starch Potato was authorised for use in USA in 2014.

March Against Monsanto

March Against Monsanto movement
. * Organic Consumers Association and its campaign, "Millions Against Monsanto" * Official website Annear, Steve (24 May 2013). " Thousands to Protest Genetically Modified Foods During Weekend Rally". Boston. Retrieved 22 June 2013. "Worldwide March Against Monsanto". Progressive 77(7):10–13. July 2013.


EPA started a registration review in 2013. The EPA's review has been criticized, and the safety of atrazine remains controversial. Atrazine is a herbicide that is used to stop pre- and post-emergence broadleaf and grassy weeds in crops such as sorghum, maize, sugarcane, lupins, pine, and eucalypt plantations, and triazine-tolerant canola. In the United States as of 2014, atrazine was the second-most widely used herbicide after glyphosate, with 76 million pounds of it applied each year. Atrazine continues to be one of the most widely used herbicides in Australian agriculture.


Increasing use of dicamba has been reported with the release of dicamba-resistant genetically modified plants by Monsanto. In October 2016, the EPA launched a criminal investigation into the illegal application of older, drift prone formulations of dicamba onto these new plants. Older formulations have been reported to drift after application and affect other crops not meant to be treated. A less volatile formulation of dicamba made by Monsanto, designed to be less prone to vaporizing and inhibit unintended drift between fields, was approved for use in the United States by the EPA in 2016, and was expected to be commercially available in 2017.