There are plenty of public-sector scientists who can create transgenic plants in their laboratories. One recent impressive tour de force study with rice involving genes controlling development is instructive for the current debate about whether molecular breeding should be favored over a transgenic approach. In the end, hire asp.net developer the goals of breeding and transgenic research are the same, the introgression of good alleles for crop improvement. With breeding, linkage disequilibrium is a reality that often can result in the transfer of unfavorable genes along with the targeted good gene, whereas the transgenic approach eliminates this problem.
A fierce debate continues over the potential of GM crops to solve the problems of hunger in the developing world. It can be argued that all new advances, including the undoubted success of the Green Revolution, can have their downsides. A recent example is the Roundup Ready soybean, which has been a huge success for the farmers agricultural apps of Argentina and Brazil but may be promoting a debatably dangerous trend toward monoculture and expansion of farming into valuable sites for biodiversity. A key consequence of this debate has been to lower the level of engagement of skilled scientists in key laboratories who should be building better capacity in this field.
In rice, Sun et al. used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to generate targeted mutations in SBEIIb, leading to a higher proportion of long chains in amylopectin, which improved the fine structure and nutritional properties of the starch . Using CRISPR/Cas9, DuPont Pioneer knocked out the maize waxy gene Wx1, which encodes the granule-bound starch synthase gene that is responsible for making amylose . In the absence of GBSS expression in the endosperm, amylose was not synthesized, and this created a high amylopectin maize with improved digestibility and the potential for bio-industrial applications . The same gene has also been targeted in the potato by researchers at the Swedish Agricultural University to produce waxy potatoes, with improved cultivars aimed predominantly at the industrial starch market to be released in the next few years .
Can farmers sell directly to consumers?
While some states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal already allow cash and carry retailers to buy directly from farmers under the model Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, several others such as Uttar Pradesh don’t permit this. In these states, retailers procure via the mandis.
Agricultural professionals have continued to benefit in terms of profitability and productivity by using mobile technology developments. Ranging from data collection and tracking machine performance, to recording agricultural apps crop scouting activities, and controlling drones, mobile applications are now key component in the world of precision agriculture. Ag professionals of all ages continue to reap the rewards of new mobile apps.
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For maize, the larger grain borer has become a serious storage pest for maize in Eastern Africa and is a target trait not likely to be addressed by the private sector . Techniques now exist for transformation of all of these crops, although some would certainly benefit from further optimization. Genes have clearly been identified to control most Lepidopteran pests such as the moths and pod, stem, and fruit borers. Searches are still ongoing to identify the most effective Bts that may control Coleopteran pests like large grain borer, weevils, and nematodes; these are cases where the application of gene shuffling techniques may be important for enhancing effectiveness. In contrast to Bt, where the trait is embedded in the seed, herbicide tolerance is a trait more beneficial to large-scale farmers who can afford to buy chemical inputs. One of these is the increasing shift in Asia from growing rice in paddies that provide good weed control to aerobic conditions. In Africa, cost considerations, as well as the variety of crops grown on a single small plot, make the idea of herbicide tolerance seem less attractive for small-scale farmers.
Does agriculture pay well?
Some managers have learned about operations through family farms or stints as farm laborers. Others complete bachelor’s degrees in agricultural science or business, with some coursework in agriculture. Salary: According to the BLS, the median wage for farm and ranch managers in May 2018 was $67,950.
Technically, GM crops such as those suggested above could be developed now through concerted public-sector efforts. In fact, the public sector seems to be hard at work in many places doing transgenic research for the developing world , yet many of these projects are still in the very early stages of exploration, and one wonders whether any has a strong chance of every reaching the fields of poor farmers. It is no accident that there have been only two successful transgenic crops [Bt cotton and virus-resistant papaya ] developed through public-sector efforts.
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And perhaps no segment of farming is benefiting more from the increased productivity — and profitability — from using mobile technology than precision agriculture. From collecting data and recording crop scouting activities, to tracking machine performance and controlling drones, mobile apps have become a key component in precision farming work.
At the meeting that brought together bench and field scientists, breeders told molecular biologists that cassava is very poor at flowering and, even worse, two varieties one wants to cross often do not flower at the same time in the same breeding station. From this emerged a project to attempt to create cassava for breeding purposes that has a flower-inducing gene under the control of an ethanol-inducible promoter. In Africa, children are made to stay home from school to scare away the birds that steal exposed grains of crops like sorghum; perhaps a mutant gene like “Tassel Sheath” of maize might be transferred to sorghum to mimic the advantages found in the enclosed grain of maize. Finally, the new insights emerging daily on how microRNAs control development should offer many other new approaches to changing plant form and function. In terms of strategy, one has to strongly question whether the public sector should waste its precious resources developing any product that duplicates what the private sector can make available. However, similar benefits could be imagined for these same traits in a number of crops that are traditionally outside the formal seed sector and of no interest to the large private-sector companies.
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CRISPR/Cas systems, especially the type II CRISPR/SpCas9 system from Streptococcus pyogenes, have been developed as versatile genome-editing tools for a wide variety of potential applications (Fig. 1a) . Compared with ZFNs and TALENs, the CRISPR/Cas system is characterized by its simplicity, efficiency, and low cost, and by its ability to target multiple genes . Because of these characteristic features, CRISPR/Cas9 has been rapidly exploited in plants and may be an effective solution to a variety of problems in plant breeding . To date, many crops such as rice, maize, wheat, soybean, barley, sorghum, potato, tomato, flax, rapeseed, Camelina, cotton, cucumber, lettuce, grapes, grapefruit, apple, oranges, and watermelon have been edited by this technique (reviewed in ). The most frequent application has been in the production of null alleles, or gene knockouts, predominantly achieved by the introduction of small indels that result in frame-shift mutations or by introducing premature stop codons (Fig. 1a).
Once candidate genes (and/or or key alleles of promoters of genes) are verified for traits of interest, either through QTL or functional genomics approaches, it would seem the most obvious route for trait improvement should be to move each good allele selectively to the crop. Even from a regulatory point of view, this should be more attractive, because one knows exactly what is being transferred. We should also be able to draw on the fascinating findings from the world of plant development to improve certain crops.
The use of molecular markers has helped highlight the importance of genes from wild relatives for use in crop improvement and, as evidenced by recent work on tomato improvement, the results can sometimes be spectacular . African farmers are showing real enthusiasm for new interspecific hybrids that combine the best of both Asian and African rices . Advances in genomics should also be able to contribute new insights to our currently vague understanding of that most important of traits, heterosis . Can such understanding help us determine whether there is good value in promoting the development of hybrid sorghum and millets for Africa and to explore further the potential of heterosis in many crops beyond maize? Certainly, development of hybrid seed is one way to promote viable seed markets for crops. But do we understand well enough the cost–benefit equations for small farmers with respect to purchase of high-quality seed vs. the saving of seed, and is the development of a strong private-sector seed business a necessary part of moving such farmers beyond the subsistence level? Such questions go beyond the realm of science into that of sociology and economics, but good answers clearly require input from the scientific community.
A far greater challenge may be to find responsible mechanisms for dissemination and monitoring of crops for which there is no well developed seed sector. Because there is a growing demand for hybrid maize among small farmers, hybrid GM maize already has, through private-sector seed companies, a mechanism in place for distribution and monitoring. A more serious issue from a scientific perspective is that any new trait can become diluted out and lose efficacy in crops with a high degree of outcrossing and where seed is saved and reused by farmers. For vegetatively propagated crops, the use of tissue culture to provide more vigorous virus-free plantings has expanded widely for crops like banana, cassava, potato, and sweet potato. Farmers, even in Africa, are finding good value in the purchase of some of these, especially banana, suggesting that distribution of these types of GM crops might be responsibly managed through similar tissue culture operations.Posted on