Resource management in challenged environments
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Biotechnology promises to use modern molecular genetics to solve agricultural problems dealing with plant and animal stress in challenged environments, but it has not yet provided significant solutions. Important characteristics such as, heat, cold, salt, and drought tolerance may be multigene traits that will require more sophistication in producing useful transgenics. In addition, reduced funding for public research is shifting the focus towards industry funded proprietary research, with little work done on crop characteristics important in the developing world.Those involved in agricultural biotechnology research must develop communication strategies that show that biotechnology is simply a set of useful tools and to inform the public on progress in different area. The key to acceptance of the use of biotechnology is safety and there will have to be a balance between risks and the ability to feed the world. The perspectives of organic agriculture on biotechnology is that it would pick and choose between various biotechnologies depending on the particular trait.The workshop discussions revolved around three main issues: 1. Sustainable agriculture has a variety of meanings depending on the specific location and the nature of the agricultural enterprise, 2. Diversity has great variability in meaning depending upon the specific case, and 3. Advances in agricultural biotechnology will continue to suffer from the difficulties of educating an intelligent but scientific illiterate population that increasingly gets information in 30-second sound bites.
Agricultural biotechnology; environment; sustainable agriculture; drought tolerance; heat tolerance; pesticides; international agriculture; feeding the world; property rights; public funding of research; biodiversity; conservation; regulation;