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Biotechnology Materials Free Download



• What is biotechnology?

• Give examples of application of biotech for welfare of mankind.

• What is cloning?

• Is cloning ethical?

• Name some cloned animals.

• What is a stem cell?

• What are the applications of stem cell technology?

• Can you name an Indian corporate group that is into stem cell research?

• Why does a cell multiply?

• What are bacteria?

• What are fungi?

• What is the difference between fungi and bacteria?

• What is a virus?

• Why is virus non-living?

• What is the difference between bacteria and virus?

• What are the major biotech companies in India?

• What is the use of biotech in agriculture and dairy industries?

• What is a protein?

• Is nucleic acid a protein?

• What is a gene?

• Who coined the term 'gene'?

• What is gene amplification?

• What is gene bank?

• What is gene pool?

• What is DNA?

• What is DNA made of?

• What are the four nitrogenous bases in DNA?

• What is RNA?

• How does DNA duplicate itself?

• What is a DNA chip?

• What is terminator gene technology?

• What is a chromosome?

• What do you know about the Human Genome Project?

• What are the applications of Human Genome in pharmaceuticals?

• What is genetic engineering?

• What is hybridisation?

• What is the difference between genetic engineering and hybridisation?

• What are amino acids?

• What is the difference between physical chemistry and organic chemistry?

• Name some inheritance diseases.

• Is haemophilia an inheritance disease?

• What is the contribution of Watson and Crick?

• What is mitosis?

• What is meiosis?

What is agricultural biotechnology?

Agricultural biotechnology is an advanced technology that allows plant breeders to make precise genetic changes to impart beneficial traits to the crop plants we rely on for food and fiber. For centuries farmers and plant breeders have labored to improve crop plants. Traditional breeding methods include selecting and sowing the seeds from the strongest, most desirable plants to produce the next generation of crops. By selecting and breeding plants with characteristics such as higher yield, resistance to pests and hardiness, early farmers dramatically changed the genetic make-up of crop plants long before the science of genetics was understood. As a result, most of today's crop plants bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors. The tools of modern biotechnology allow plant breeders to select genes that produce beneficial traits and move them from one organism to another. This process is far more precise and selective than crossbreeding, which involves the transfer of tens of thousands of genes, and provided plant developers with a more detailed knowledge of the changes being made. The ability to introduce genetic material from other plants and organisms opens up a world of possibilities to benefit food production. As an example, "Bt" crops that are protected against insect damage contain selected genes found in the common soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis. The Bt genes contain information that the plant uses to produce a protein toxic to the larvae of certain plant pests but is safe for humans, animals and other insects. Pest-protected Bt plants stop these insects from eating and destroying the plant, which improves yields and reduces the need for pesticide applications, saving the farmer time and money. Organic farmers use this same Bt to protect their crops from insects. 

Is biotechnology fundamentally different from other breeding techniques, and does it pose unacceptable risks? 

No. Biotechnology is a refinement of breeding techniques that have been used to improve plants for thousands of years. The 20th century, in particular, saw the development and application of many new techniques to transfer genes between related and even unrelated species for crop improvement. Biotechnology is the latest in a long line of increasingly powerful tools for enhancing crops. Many scientific groups have concluded that the risks associated with crop plants developed using biotechnology are the same as those for similar varieties developed using traditional breeding methods. In a 1987 report, the National Academy of Sciences (part of what is now called the National Academies) determined that "There is no evidence that unique hazards exist either in the use of r-DNA techniques or in transfer of genes between unrelated organisms. The risks associated with the introduction of r-DNA organisms are the same in kind as those associated with the introduction in the environment of unmodified organisms and organisms modified by other genetic techniques." Subsequent reports by the National Academies and other scientific bodies have reaffirmed this view. This scientific consensus continues to inform the U.S. regulatory policy, which focuses primarily on the characteristics of the new crop variety, not the method used to produce it. Are crops developed using biotechnology as safe for the environment as crops developed using traditional breeding practices? Yes. Extensive scientific evaluation worldwide has not found any examples of ecological damage from biotechnology crops. Many published studies-from the National Academies, the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology, and others-have arrived at the same conclusion: Biotechnology-derived crops pose no unique risks to the environment compared with similar crops produced using traditional techniques. To ensure that the new plant is safe for the environment, extensive field-testing is conducted under USDA and EPA oversight. To date, there have been no instances of a biotechnology-derived plant approved for field-testing either creating an environmental hazard or exhibiting any unpredictable behavior compared with similar crops modified using traditional methods. Agricultural biotechnology has tremendous potential to reduce the environmental impact of farming. Current crops designed to resist pests and tolerate herbicides have already cut chemical usage on farms significantly, and the herbicide-tolerance trait promotes conservation agricultural practices like no-tillage farming that reduce soil erosion, prevent water loss, and even limit release of greenhouse gases. Future crops designed to tolerate environmental stresses, such as salty or toxic soils, drought, and freezing temperatures, will make agriculture more efficient and sustainable by producing more food and fiber on less land. These and other traits also will allow farmers to bring currently nonarable land into production, reducing the pressure to convert threatened ecosystems, such as rainforests, to farmland. Biotechnology can also be used to produce renewable plant-based energy and industrial products and biological agents to clean up contaminated soils. 

Are foods produced using biotechnology as safe to eat as foods produced using traditional breeding practices? 

Yes. For over two decades, the products of biotechnology have been assessed for safety using science-based regulatory and nonregulatory mechanisms developed over the last half century for all crop plants. Biotechnology plants and foods are among the most tested in history. A number of prestigious U.S. and international scientific bodies - such as the U.S. National Academies of Science, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dietetic Association, the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), the Institute for Food Technologists, the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the British Medical Association – have determined that biotech crops are as safe as similar crops improved through traditional and organic breeding methods. A 2004 report by the National Academies, for example, found that biotech crops do not pose any more health risks than do crops created by other techniques and that food safety evaluations should be based on the resulting food product, not the technique used to create it." Indeed, because scientists know more about the changes being made using biotechnology, these foods may be even safer than conventional foods. The precision of biotechnology puts plant developers and regulators are in a better position to address safety that cannot be addressed for products of conventional breeding, which involves the uncontrolled crossing of tens of thousands of uncharacterized genes. Federal regulatory agencies also ensure the safety of biotechnology foods. To date, no approved biotechnology food has harmed human health. 

Are the products of agricultural biotechnology regulated? 

Yes. The U.S. regulatory system, which enjoys a high degree of public confidence, employs rigorous scientific reviews within a transparent decision-making framework open to public participation. This regulatory approach provides full access to documents on which decisions are based and is carried out completely in the public eye as required by law. The science-based U.S. regulatory system has helped ensure that biotechnology products are safe for producers, consumers, and the environment. Biotechnology products in the United States are regulated according to a system, the Coordinated Framework, established by the Office of Science and Technology Policy in 1986. Deriving its mandate from existing laws regulating food safety and agriculture, the Coordinated Framework assigns lead responsibility for biotechnology products to the appropriate regulatory agency and sets out principles for cooperative reviews in areas where responsibilities or authorities overlap. The regulation of agricultural biotechnology products is handled by three agencies: 

• U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - APHIS oversees the field-testing of biotechnology-derived plants as "regulated articles" to ensure that the environment is protected. A petition for nonregulated status must be granted by APHIS prior to commercial growth and sale of any bioengineered crop. 

• The Environmental Protection Agency - The EPA is responsible for ensuring that pest-resistant biotech varieties are safe to grow and consume. It regulates environmental exposure to these crops to ensure there are no adverse effects to the environment or any beneficial, nontargeted insects and other organisms. The agency also regulates bioengineered microorganisms under the Toxic Substances Control Act. 

• Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Nutrition - The FDA imposes on foods developed through biotechnology the same regulatory requirements FDA uses to safeguard all foods in the marketplace. The FDA has both premarket and postmarket authority to regulate the safety and labeling of all foods and animal feed. Foods from biotechnology are judged on their individual safety and nutrition, not the methods used to produce them. Under federal law, the producer of a food has the legal obligation to ensure its safety to consumers, and FDA may pull from the market any foods found to be unsafe. Since 1992, FDA has used a voluntary review process for biotechnology foods. Over 50 such products have been reviewed, and none has been found to pose a safety concern. To improve consumer confidence, proposed rules issued by FDA in 2001 would make premarket review of biotech foods mandatory. 

Do foods produced using biotechnology require special labeling? 

No. The FDA applies the same labeling standards to foods produced through biotechnology that are applied to all foods produced using traditional methods. Federal law requires labeling of a new food to inform consumers when there are significant changes in nutrition, safety or usage, or if the common name of the food no longer applies. The FDA's evaluation of a biotechnology food focuses on its characteristics, not the method used to develop it. A new biotechnology food that is "substantially equivalent"-that is, has a similar composition and nutritional value-to similar varieties currently on the market would not require a special label because it would not provide the consumer with material information on the new food's safety or nutritional value. However, the FDA may require extensive premarket testing requirements and special labeling if the source of the genetic change has not been previously consumed in the diet or is from a common allergen. For example, any product that used a gene from a peanut, which is a potential allergen, would be subject to testing and labeling requirements. Food manufacturers are free to make voluntary claims about whether their products contain biotechnology ingredients or not, and these must be truthful, clear, and not misleading. In January 2001, the FDA issued draft guidance for food manufacturers who wish to use voluntary labels. The FDA's labeling policy has received broad scientific and industry support. For example, the American Medical Association noted that "there is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education." The biotechnology industry supports labels that convey accurate and useful information.

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