Sustainability through Biotechnology
What needs to happen if we are going to feed almost 10 billion people by the year 2050 in a sustainable way? Written for first- and second-year university students, this interdisciplinary textbook addresses this challenging question, presenting biological, economic, and sociocultural issues at an introductory level.Presenting and integrating information from many disciplines, this book invites readers to consider the complexity of feeding humanity and increasing food production sustainably. Topics covered include:the development, physiology, and nutrition of plantshuman nutrition and food safetyphotosynthesis and energy transformationsgenetics, molecular biology, and genomics, including the techniques of genetic transformation (gene silencing, gene editing with CRISPR) used in modern crop breedingcrop domestication and plant breedingsoil ecosystemsthe biotic (animal pests, diseases, and weeds) and abiotic (drought, flooding, temperature extremes, and soil degradation) stresses that limit crop productiontechnological advances and how new innovations (equipment, chemical products, and improved plant varieties) reach farmers and eventually affect what we eat; also discusses legal aspects (e.g., patents) relevant to agricultural innovationsplants as sources of pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicalsAlthough publicised in the controversies surrounding “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs), the applications of modern biotechnology to agriculture extend far beyond GMOs, and include crop improvements that rely on knowledge of the plant’s genomes and its analysis by bioinformatics. This unifying theme of the text is stressed in coverage of a number of issues that appear throughout the chapters, including:how crop plant breeders look for specific traits to solve practical problemsgenetic engineering of crops as a useful way to supplement conventional plant breedingthe nature of agribusiness in industrialised countriesthe vital contributions of developing countries and their smallhold farmers, and the unique challenges facing themChallenging and controversial topics such as the safety of pesticides and GMOs, the increasing demand for animal products and the stresses this puts on agricultural output, organic farming and foods, and patenting new crop varieties are dealt with in a balanced way, inviting teachers and students to consider all the implications of these serious questions.