Needs for and environmental risks from transgenic crops in the developing world

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Abstract or Summary

The developing world has many unique constraints to crop production and, lacking inputs, they are best overcome if solutions are seed borne. Classical breeding cannot overcome many of these constraints because the species have attained a ‘genetic glass ceiling’, the genes are not available within the species. Transgenics can supply the genes, but typically not as ‘hand me down genes’ from the developed world because of the unique problems: mainly parasitic weeds, and weedy rice, stem borers and post-harvest insects, viral diseases, tropical mycotoxins, anti-feedants, toxic heavy metals and mineral deficiencies. Public sector involvement is imperative for genetically engineering against these constraints, as the private biotechnology sector does not see the developing world as a viable market in most instances. Rice, sorghum, barley, wheat and millets have related weeds, and in certain cases, transgenic gene containment and/or mitigation is necessary to prevent establishment of transgenes in the weedy relatives.

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