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Green Biotechnology

Everyone’s talking about biotechnology, but it can mean many different things. Biotechnology has its hand in drugs, detergents, as well as in bread and beer. It is a classic cross-section technology, drawing not only on such disciplines as biology and biochemistry, but also encompassing physics, chemistry, engineering, materials science and computer science. At the heart of biotechnology is the application of science and technology to living organisms.

Are biotechnological methods used in agriculture, experts tell it green biotechnology or agribiotechnology. Put simply, modern agriculture could not function without biotechnology. The basic principles for this were laid down primarily by plant genome research. One way or another, the genetic optimation of plants has always been the goal of farmers, even if it wasn’t put in such terms: Millennia ago, farmers selected and propagated those plants that showed evidence of desirable properties. Diligent crossbreeding and backbreeding has changed the genetic composition of plants so that they produce ever-sweeter apples or ever-larger cobs of corn. However, the events at the genetic level during crossbreeding and backbreeding remained a mystery until the 19th Century, when the work of Gregor Mendel laid the foundations for today's modern genetics. Since then, the secrets of plant genes continue to be revealed. The advantages of this knowledge are clear: In earlier times, breeders had to depend entirely on the observation and analysis of external characteristics, as well as trust their experience as to whether the plants created using crossbreeding actually contained the desired characteristics. The laboriousness of these processes for breeders – both in the past and today – is well demonstrated by the sometimes decades-long developmental periods of new varieties of plants. The advances in knowledge of genome researchers have contributed to significant changes in the field. The milestones of green biotechnology were consecutively the complete sequencing of the genome of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana – otherwise known as thale cress - in 2000, and the deciphering of the rice genome two years later.

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