The basis of Mendelian genetics allowed plant breeders to cross plants with new precision, carefully manipulating the plant genome to produce new and improved varieties. These breeding techniques have been used to develop higher-yielding varieties, including plants that are resistant to pests or diseases. The genetic improvement of crops, through transgenic or conventional methods, is just one of the many methods that can be used to improve crop yields. Others include improvements in agricultural practices, irrigation, drainage, and the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.
Better storage and transportation of food to reduce waste can also help ensure a reliable supply of food. Most of the yield increases that breeders have achieved are the result of taking advantage of a longer growing season and the possibility of planting in early spring, he said. As a result, seeds with stacked traits have become increasingly popular, and farmers are looking for crops that tolerate several different herbicides and are resistant to one or more insects. The two types of transgenic corn, for example, were not modified to increase yield, but to combat losses caused by weeds and insects.
The new article shows that Bt eggplant has been effective in protecting crops against the plague of the eggplant fruit and the borer of the sprouts. The report has been criticized by supporters of GMOs, who say it did not take into account a number of factors affecting yields, including climate, soils, government subsidies and agricultural systems. Respecting consumer choice and the risk taken is as important as having safeguards to avoid mixing genetically modified products with non-genetically modified foods. Since then, the case-by-case approach to risk assessment of genetically modified products has been widely accepted, however, in the United States.
While in the past many countries lacked comprehensive regulation, governments around the world are now meeting public demands and implementing stricter testing and labeling requirements for genetically modified crops. Several researchers found no significant difference between the performances of those who adopted and those who did not adopt HT; some found that HT adopters had higher yields, while others found that adopters had lower returns. For example, the increase in yields following the introduction of insect-resistant eggplant (Bt) in Bangladesh has been substantial and is well documented in studies. Through selective breeding, countless generations of farm and livestock animals have been selected for traits considered beneficial to humans.
Other ongoing efforts include improving the shelf life of fruits and vegetables to significantly reduce post-harvest losses of perishable crops. Since its inception, agriculture has depended on modifying the genetic makeup of plants and animals.