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Engineering Better Fruit

Engineering Better Fruit

Engineering Better Fruit

Plant crops can be genetically engineered to be resistant to disease or produce bigger fruits, improving their yield. If a crop has its genome modified, they are termed genetically modified (GM) crops.

Arable farming often makes use of genetic engineering to increase the yields of the crops. What percentage of the world's crops do you think are genetically engineered (in 2020)?

So only 10% of the total crops produced in the world are genetically engineered. However for some crops, like soya beans, nearly all crops are genetically engineered. About 83% of soya beans have been genetically engineered!

When we talk about food, we don't always call them "genetically engineered crops". We often call them "GM crops". What do you think GM stands for?

Cotton is a very valuable crop, with global sales worth over $56 billion each year!


Cotton growers face a number of challenges.

For example, cotton is eaten by many insects, and cotton plants have to compete with weeds for nutrients etc.


One pest of cotton is the boll-worm. Cotton has no natural defence against boll-worms, but the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis does.

What can we add to the cotton to make use of this bacteria's desirable ability to kill the boll-worm?

What is the next desirable characteristic that farmers would want to give to cotton?

Another way to improve the yield of a crop is to engineer a plant that can grow larger fruits. Where should the scientist look for the gene that would allow for larger fruits?

The first GM plant to be sold was a type of tomato in 1994. It was engineered to take longer to ripen than other varieties. Why would this be a good idea?

Although GM crops can help produce more food to feed a growing world population, there are concerns about them. Why do you think some people are worried about GM crops? Pick all the options you think are correct.

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Today's cotton crops are genetically modified to resist the effects of herbicides (weedkillers). This means that farmers can use more herbicides to destroy weeds without killing the cotton. Which of these are concerns about how this effects the environment? Pick all the options you think are correct.

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