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What is Biotechnology?. Biology 600 Biotechnology: Principles and Products Delivered Live and via Videoconference June 1-2, 2005. Phil McClean Department of Plant Science North Dakota State University. The Latest Biotech News. ND GMO Planting Decisions (Winter 2005).

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What is Biotechnology?

Biology 600

Biotechnology: Principles and Products

Delivered Live and via Videoconference

June 1-2, 2005

Phil McClean

Department of Plant Science

North Dakota State University

The Latest Biotech News

ND GMO Planting Decisions (Winter 2005)

  • New law enacted during 2005 legislative session
  • Only the ND state government has the authority to ban
  • plantings of GMO crops
  • Response to laws passed at county level in other states

EU Approving GMO-free Zones (May 2005)

  • European Union GMO regulations permit regions
  • to declare themselves GMO
  • Otherwise approved GMO products can be grown
  • 162 regions or provinces (=US states) have asked to be
  • GMO free
  • 4500 total government units have made the request
What is Biotechnology?

How about some definitions

General Definition

The application of technology to improve

a biological organism

Detailed Definition

The application of the technology to modify

the biological function of an organism

by adding genes from another organisms

What is the Result of Biotechnology?
  • An organism showing a novel trait not normally found in the species

Extended shelf-life tomato

(FlavrSavr Tomato)

Herbicide resistant soybean

(Roundup Ready Soybean)

Biotechnology Terms You Probably Heard

Transgene – the foreign gene added to a species

Ex. – modified EPSP synthase gene (encodes a protein that

functions even when plant treated with Roundup)

Transgenic – an organism containing a transgene introduced by technological (not breeding) methods

Ex. – Roundup Ready Crops

Biotechnology Develops

GMOs - Genetically modified organisms

  • GMO - an organism that expresses traits that result
  • from the introduction of foreign DNA
  • Also called transgenic organism
Important Terms
  • Breeding
  • Beneficial gene added from the same species
  • Gene delivered by mating within the species

Source: USDA

  • Transformation
  • Beneficial gene added from another species
  • Gene delivered by plant genetic engineering

Source: USDA

Let’s Be Up Front
  • Breeding  Biotechnology
    •  Breeding only exchanges genes found in the species
    • Breeding can transfer the transgene to other breeding materials
    • BUT it is not the same as biotechnology
  • Biotechnology adds traits not available in the species
    •  Soybean does not have a gene to breakdown Roundup
    • The gene comes from bacteria
Interspecific Cross





New species, but

NOT biotechnology


Mutagenesis: New Trait, No Foreign Gene
  • Mutagenesis changes the sequence of a gene
  • New, useful traits can be obtained











BASF Clearfield Products

Mutagenesis Crops

  • Herbicide resistance
    • imidazolinones
  • Mutant AHAS enzyme
    • developed by mutagenesis
  • Crops
    • Canola, Corn, Rice, Sunflower, Wheat
  • In US
    • Not considered GMOs by USDA regulators
    • A Major marketing advantage
    • When some stacked with GMOs, the advantage lost
The Crop Biotech Market Is Dominated

By Five Countriesa

6.7%/13 ma

(6.0%/10 ma)

58.8%/118 ma

(63%/106 ma)

4.6%/9 ma

(3%/7 ma)

6.2%/12 ma

(3%/7 ma)

20.0%/40 ma

(21%/36 ma)

Top Five Countries = 96% of market

20 % increase in biotech acreage from 2003

a2004 growing season data. 2003 in parentheses.

Crop Biotechnology Grew Worldwide

In 2004

  • 200 million acres (20% growth)
  • 8.3 million farmers (18% growth)
  • 17 mega-producing countries (>120,000 acres)
  • Up from 16 countries in 2003
    • US, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China, Paraguay, India
    • South Africa, Uruguay, Australia, Romania, Mexico,
    • Spain, Philippines, Colombia, Honduras, Germany
  • Germany new in 2004

Historically, biotechnology is the most rapidly

adopted new agricultural technology

Biotechnology Crops:

Worldwide Acreage 2004

Soybean: 120.0 million acres (17% annual growth)

Corn: 30.6 million acres (25% annual growth)

Canola: 16.8 million acres (12 % annual growth)

Economic Effect of Bt Cotton

In China

  • $200/acre increase in income
  • $750 million increase nationally
Benefits to Hungarian Farmers

From: Demont et al. 2005. Potential impact of biotechnology in eastern Europe: transgenic maize, sugar beet, and

oilseed rape in Hungary.

Transgenic Crops Increasing In the USa

a Source: NASS Planting Reports, 2001, 2002.

b2002 US acreage = 73 million; ND acreage = 2.6 million

c2002 US acreage = 79 million; ND acreage = 1.2 million

d2002 US acreage = 1.6 million; ND acreage = 1.3 million





Ha 2004

Soybean 86 56 55

Cotton 32 28 21

Canola 23 19 16

Maize 140 14 11

Impact of Transgenics on

Major Crop Production

Transgenic versions of the big four crops

are grown on 30% of their acreage

Impact of Transgenics on

Worldwide Crop Production

Transgenic crops are grown on 5%

of the 3.7 billion acres of cultivated land in the world

Roundup Ready Soybean

No Yield Drag or (Advantage)

North Dakota 2002 Data

aData collected by Dr. Ted Helms, NDSU

b# of varieties in trial in parenthesis

Roundup Ready Soybean

Reduces Expensesa

aData provided by Dr. Duane Burgland, NDSU.

Biotech Crops Can Be Environmentally

(and Yield) Friendly

Table 1. Cotton yield and insecticide results from a large (157 sites) trial in India during 2001.

*Means within a row are significantly different at the 5% level

From: Science (2003) 299:900

Agriculture Products On the Market

Insect resistant cotton

  • Bt toxin kills the cotton boll worm
  • toxin gene from a bacteria

Source: USDA

Insect resistant corn

  • Bt toxin kills the European corn borer
  • toxin gene from a bacteria
  • Rootworm GM approved (2/26/03)



Herbicide resistant crops
  • current: soybean, corn, canola
  • coming: sugarbeet, lettuce, strawberry,

alfalfa, potato, wheat (on hold)

  • resistance gene from bacteria

Source: Monsanto

Virus resistance

  • papaya, squash, potato
  • resistance gene from a virus
Bacterial and Animal Biotechnology Products

Biotech chymosin

  • enzyme used to curdle milk products
  • gene from yeast
  • harvested from GE bacteria
  • replaces the calf enzyme

Source: Chr. Hansen

bST (bovine somatotropin)

  • increases milk production
  • gene from cow
  • protein harvested from GE bacteria
  • replaces cow protein originally
  • harvested from pituitary glands
  • of slaughtered cows

Source: Rent Mother Nature

Next Generation of Ag Biotech Products

Golden Rice

  • Increased Vitamin A content
  • Transgenes from bacteria and daffidol
  • Controversory: large amount needed to
  • solve problem


  • White mold resistance
  • Resistance gene from wheat

Source: Minnesota

Microscopy Society

  • Herbicide resistance
  • Slower growing
  • reduced mowing = reduced pollution

Bio Steel

  • Spider silk strongest known protein
  • Protein expressed in goat milk
  • Protein used to make soft-body,
  • bullet proof vests (Nexia)
Field Testing Permits Tell Us What is Coming

Field Trial Data: Jan 2001 – Today (n=2540)

2001-03 data; collated from: Information Systems for Biotechnology


Where Are the GM Crops Tested in the US?

ND #23

230 (3)

IA #4

1,022 (12)

CA #5

990 (12)

IL #2

1,292 (16)

PR #3

1,063 (13)

HA #1

1,437 (17)

Data: 1993-present: State rank, # trials, % total trials

Information Systems for Biotechnology (

Corn is the Current Main Focus

2001-03 data; collated from: Information Systems for Biotechnology


The Traditional Traits Predominant

2001-03 data; collated from: Information Systems for Biotechnology


But Some Novel Traits Are Being Tested

2001-03 data; collated from: Information Systems for Biotechnology


What’s Coming for Wheat??

2001-03 data; collated from: Information Systems for Biotechnology


Some Ag Biotech Products Are Discontinued


  • Poor Quality
  • FlavrSavr tomatoes (Calgene)
  • Negative Consumer Response
  • Tomato paste (Zeneca)
  • Negative Corporate Response
  • NewLeaf (Monsanto)
  • Universal Negative Publicity
  • StarLink corn (Aventis)
Environmental Applications

Indicator bacteria

  • contamination is detected in the environment
  • microbes sensitive to certain pollutants


  • cleanup contaminated sites
  • uses microbes designed to degrade
  • the pollutant
Land Mine Detection

Without this effort,

that is dangerous to our military,

children aremaimed.

Land Mine Detection
  • How biotechnology helps
    • Patented transgene added to plants
    • When metal from mine is detected
      • Plant turns from green to red
    • Technology developed by Aresa Biodetection

Mine detected

What is Biopharming?

Biopharming Definition

Growing transgenic crops that express

pharmaceutical products





Why use this technology?

Familiar Production Systems

  • Genes introduced into field crops (mostly corn)
  • New productions systems not needed
  • Producer can use traditional growing strategies

Reduced End-Product Cost

  • Animal system: $1000 - $5000 per gram protein
  • Plant System: $1 - $10 per gram protein
  • Source: The Roanoke Times, 2000
Edible Vaccines – A Biopharming Dream

Biotech Plants Serving Human Health Needs

  • A pathogen protein gene is cloned
  • Gene is inserted into the DNA of plant (potato, banana, tomato)
  • Humans eat the plant
  • The body produces antibodies against pathogen protein
  • Human are “immunized” against the pathogen
  • Examples:
    • Diarrhea
    • Hepatitis B
    • Measles
Future Health-related Biotech Products


  • Herpes
  • hepatitis C
  • AIDS
  • malaria

Tooth decay

  • Streptococcus mutans, the mouth bacteria
  • releases lactic acid that destroys enamel
  • engineered Streptococcus mutans
  • does not release lactic acid
  • destroys the tooth decay strain
Nutritional Genomics

(Nutrigenomics: a coming

Biotechnology innovation)

  • Concepts of Nutrigenomics
  • Certain diets can cause severe health risks in individuals
    • Refined sugars, dairy products, fatty foods
  • Certain diets enhance disease susceptibility in individual’s
  • with a specific genetic makeup
    • Diabetes, lactose intolerance, high cholesterol
  • Diets based on an individuals genetic makeup are preferred
    • No refined sugars, minimal dairy products
    • or fatty foods
Nutritional Genomics


  • Goal of Nurtigenomics
  • Identify specific genetic makeups
    • What combination of genes places a person at risk?
  • Develop dietary recommendations
    • What diets are best suited for certain at-risk individuals?
Top Biotechnologies

In The Future

  • Molecular Diagnostics
    • Treatments exist, but diagnositic tools are lacking
    • Expensive, hard to implement
    • Cost effective diagnostic procedures needed
  • Recombinant Vaccines
    • Vaccines have effectively eradicated small pox, polio, etc
    • Other diseases need to be addressed
    • More effective and low-cost vaccines are needed
    • Genetic engineering can solve these problems
Top Biotechnologies

In The Future

  • Vaccine and drug delivery
    • Vaccine injections can cause serious infection
    • New delivery forms, such as slow release drugs, are needed
  • Bioremediation
    • Water, air, and soil pollution is a problem
    • Plants can breakdown much of these pollutants
    • Plants that are safe to the environment and reduce pollutants
    • are needed
Top Biotechnologies

In The Future

  • Nutritionally Enriched Crops
    • Malnutrition is widespread
    • Malnutrition is associated with many diseases
    • Modification of staple crops necessary
    • to solve the problem
  • Female Controlled Protection Against STDs
    • Incidence of sexually-transmitted disease is high
    • Women are most affected
    • Vaginal microbicides needed
      • Topical application best solution
The Question for the Future:

Should We Live A Biotech Free Lifestyle??

  • Answers depends upon your perspective on the value
  • of the technology
  • What will support your opinion?
    • Economics
    • Safety of products
    • Needs of human