Over the past 25 years, terms like genetic modification, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology, and biotechnology have became commonplace in the news and in the public vocabulary. But biotechnology has in fact been practiced for thousands of years, with the aim of harnessing organisms for processing food and making useful products. Since the 1980s, however, recombinant DNA technology has given us the ability to modify organisms in the most fundamental way. The modification of plants by these new techniques has unleashed a storm of public controversy worldwide. Plant Biotechnology brings perspective to the discussion. Tracing the history of biotechnology from its origins in antiquity, through its foundations as a science in the work of Louis Pasteur, to the birth of modern genetic engineering, this book describes traditional uses for plants, reveals how they are genetically engineered, and explains how new technology compares with conventional ways of generating new food plants. Readers will find that this accessible introduction dispels some of the myths surrounding genetic engineering, clearly presents the current impact and future potential of genetically modified plants, and provides a balanced look at the risks and benefits of biotechnology.
Full-color photographs and illustrations. Glossary. Sidebars. References. Web sites. Further reading. Index.
About the Author(s)
Author and series consulting editor William G. Hopkins received a B.A. in biology from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in botany from Indiana University. His postdoctoral training was conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has taught at Bryn Mawr College and the University of Western Ontario, where he is now professor emeritus of biology. Hopkins has taught primarily in the areas of plant physiology and cell biology, was responsible for design and implementation of an honors program in cell biology, and served for many years as an undergraduate counselor. In 1988, he was awarded the University’s Gold Medal for Excellence in Teaching. He has served in numerous administrative posts, including chair of the University’s academic review board. His research and publications have focused on the role of light and temperature in plant development, the organization of chlorophyll-protein complexes, and energy transformations in chloroplasts. Hopkins is a contributing author to two high school biology textbooks and is the senior author of Introduction to Plant Physiology.