The debate over the safety of consuming food made
from genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) has escalated
and many consumers are now turning to food which is labeled
"organically grown". Consumers fear the
uncertainty regarding the lack of long term studies which
support these GMO’s.
Techniques aimed at crop improvement have
been utilized for centuries. Today, applied plant science
has three overall goals: increased crop yield, improved crop
quality, and reduced production costs. Biotechnology is
proving its value in meeting these goals.
In one active area of plant research,
scientists are exploring ways to use genetic modification to
confer desirable characteristics on food crops. Similarly,
agronomists are looking for ways to harden plants against
adverse environmental conditions such as soil salinity,
drought, alkaline earth metals, and anaerobic (lacking air)
soil conditions. Genetic engineering methods are also being
used to improve fruit and vegetable crop characteristics -
such as taste, texture, size, colour, acidity or sweetness,
and ripening process.