QI inquired about genetic engineering of fodder crops and received this answer: "Molecular approaches to improvement of guinea grass, an important tropical and subtropical forage for cattle, have included genetic sequencing and marker-assisted breeding. To

I inquired about genetic engineering of fodder crops and received this answer: "Molecular approaches to improvement of guinea grass, an important tropical and subtropical forage for cattle, have included genetic sequencing and marker-assisted breeding. To our knowledge, genetic engineering has not yet been undertaken." Please define "genetic sequencing and marker-assisted breeding". How do these techniques differ from genetic engineering? Thanks

AExpert Answer

The genes that make up the blue print for an organism are carried on its DNA, which consists of a string with information coded much like letters and words. Genes or sets of genes determine many of the physical and biochemical characteristics of the organism – for example a gene for growth rate, or a set of genes that make a plant drought tolerant. Genetic sequencing is the determination of the precise DNA sequences that make up the genes of an organism (the Human Genome Project is the most famous example of this).  Using this information, researchers can identify certain DNA elements that are associated with particular plant characteristics of interest (“molecular markers”). Breeders can then use these markers to quickly identify individual plants that have the desired characteristics without having to actually grow the plants in the field.  Breeders choose individual plants for breeding that have the markers for the characteristics they need and quickly set aside the plants that do not. This is called “marker assisted selection” or “marker assisted breeding”. This technique allows breeders to cross-breed individual plants to efficiently and reliably add desired characteristics to particular crop varieties. By contrast, genetic engineering involves directly changing the DNA sequences to alter or add to the plants’ genes and create new characteristics.

Posted on March 1, 2018
GMOs are crops - and like any other version of the same crop, where you grow them and how you grow them is far more important than whether they are GMOs. No known system of agriculture can promise that it is sustainable forever; much agricultural research is being devoted to improving the sustainability of agriculture. In this regard, it appears likely that using GM technologies may improve sustainability of a particular crop cultured in a specific manner and place. Other... Read More
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Posted on March 5, 2018
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Posted on March 2, 2018
In order to answer this question, it is important to first be clear about what a GMO/GMO farm is and secondly to discuss the complex issues relating to herbicide and pesticide use. What is a GMO/GMO farm? It is assumed that this question refers to genetically modified crops. GM crop technology has been widely used since the mid-1990s and in 2016 were planted on about 178 million hectares worldwide. The main GMO traits convey: Tolerance to specific herbicides (notably to glyphosate) in maize... Read More
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