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how plant breeding technologies have affected variation in major food crops?

Submitted by: Beatriz Maria


Expert response from Irene Hwang

Scientist, Bayer

Tuesday, 03/04/2018 13:32

Plant breeding technologies have systematically increased variation in major food crops by using a variety of scientific tools, such as crossing, mutation, genetics and statistics. Take corn, the most produced grain in the world, as an example. Numerous varieties of field corn, sweet corn and popcorn have been developed through plant breeding technologies. From hundreds of varieties, farmers choose the best ones suited for their soils, climates and cultivation systems to grow in their areas.


Expert response from Community Manager

Moderator for

Tuesday, 03/04/2018 12:07

For more information on plant breeding techniques we invite you to check out the below similar questions that have been answered before.

Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, discusses the cross-pollination and reproduction of plants in this response. A snippet is included below.

“A species is defined by the ability to reproduce viable offspring, so any two plants within a species generally have the potential to cross pollinate. Like any good successful mating, it requires the union of male and female contributions at the right time, same place. So absolutely, GE crops have the potential to cross with non-GE crops of the same species—if they manage to get it on through time and space.”

Edward Souza, Global Director of Wheat Breeding at Bayer, explains the differences between conventional breeding and hybridization in another response.

“First of all, to clarify – hybridization is part of conventional breeding and conventional breeding uses hybridization to create new combinations of genes from parent varieties. For example, a disease-resistant wheat variety may be hybridized to a variety that makes flour better suited for making whole wheat bread. This is a common goal of most conventional breeding programs. It typically involves taking pollen from one parent and using it to fertilize another parent. The seed from the hybridization is formed from the pollen and ovule of the two parents. The difference in breeding from a crop reproducing in the field by itself is the mechanical transfer of pollen between parents.”

Read the full response here.

Lastly, Allan Wenck, Head of U.S. Trait Validation Operations at Bayer explains different ways organisms are modified by scientists and the specific types of modifications that are present in current GM plants on the market. Read the full detailed response here.