Molecular biology and biotechnology: The powerful tool in agriculture for global food security
Authors: Dr. Rajesh C. Jeeterwal*1 and Anju Nehra2
1Young Professsional- II, ICAR- All India Coordinated Research Project on Pearl Millet, Mandor, Jodhpur 342304 (Rajasthan)
2Senior Research Fellow, Agriculture Research Station (Agriculture University, Jodhpur), Mandor, Jodhpur 342304 (Rajasthan)
*Corresponding author email:

Biotechnology will contribute to future food security if it advantages property small-farm agriculture in developing countries. Biotechnology holds tremendous prospects for the developing world. The use of biotic and abiotic resistant high-yielding varieties can improved food security, poorness alleviation and environment conservation. Genetically modified crops can hopefully turn out a lot of yield on less land. This could increase the productivity and will provide developing countries a means to sustain themselves and reduce worldwide hunger.


During the last four year decades, in India, the agriculture production has increased considerably largely due to the development and large scale cultivation of high yielding dwarf varieties of wheat and rice, and greater applications of water and nutrients. This increase in food production has made India self sufficient and contributed tremendously to food security. However, the population expected to reach 1.8 billions in 2050 will impose great demand for increased food production.

The additional food will have to be produced on existing agricultural land with dwindling water resources and changing climate. In additional, crop losses due to insect-pests diseases and declining soil fertility will also a challenge against food security. Biotechnology holds tremendous possibilities for the developing world. The use of the biotic abiotic resistant high-yielding varieties will have a direct increase on improved food security, poverty alleviation and environmental conservation. Genetically modified crops will produce higher yield on lesser land. This may increase the overall per hectare production and may offer developing countries a ways to sustain themselves and reducing worldwide hunger.

Biotechnological approaches

Conventional technologies of agriculture are inadequate to meet above challenges. This calls for harnessing the powerful tools of molecular biology and biotechnology in agriculture.

Biotechnological approaches such as marker assisted breeding and transgenic crops have capability to:-

  • Increase productivity and thus contribute to food feed and fibre security.
  • Lower production costs
  • Conserve biodiversity
  • Make efficient use of inputs, for a suitable environment.
  • Increases stability of production by managing biotic and abiotic stresses and
  • To improve economic and social benefits.
The major destabilizing factors in agriculture are biotic and abiotic stress. Insects-pests, backing, fungi, viruses and nematodes comprise biotic stress, while temperature, drought and salinity are abiotic stresses.

The past record of biotechnology to manage biotic stress and prevent yield losses is simply marvelous. Introduction of genetically modified (GM) cotton, cron, soybean in mid nineties brought about a season change in the crop yields. Significantly reduced insecticide use and provided socio-economic benefits to the farmers.

Significant enhancement for yield of crops

Introduction of Bt cotton in India has revolutionized cotton production. The area under genetically modified cotton reached above 11 million hectares in 2014-15 constituting nearly more than 90% of the total cotton acrease in India. As a result, the production also reached 4.9 million tonnes. India has emerged as the second largest production and exporter of cotton in the world. On average, Bt cotton farmers realized pesticide reduction of roughly 40% and yield advantage of 30-40%. All these are indicators of the significant impact and acceptance of Bt technology in cotton by the farmers of India.

Scientists developed and commercialized rice variety Pusa Basmati-1 tolerant to bacterial leaf blight. The improved Pusa Basmati-1 variety has 12 per cent yield superiority over its parent. Similarly a popular rice variety Swarna was made tolerant to flooding and submergence. The gene (sub-1) was mobilized to Swarna by molecular plant breeding. The new variety with the all qualities of Swarna yields 5 t/ha in 145 days and it is suitable for late planting.

The scientists of international crop research institute for semi-arid tropics (ICRISAT) at Hyderabad and Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar developed a bajra variety, HHB-67 improved, resistant to Downey mildew disease. This variety released to the farmers in 2005 but in same years of severe disease attack the yield of grain and straw is reduced up to 30 per cent. The improved HHB-67 brought a significant change in the bajra yield in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat.


Hunger and deficiency disease

Deficiency disease is that the related term in medication for hunger. the most recent estimate of the Food and Agriculture Organization says that 854 million individuals worldwide are malnourished. This is 12.6 per cent of 6.6 billion individuals within the world. Several of the 854 million that are malnourished, youngsters being the foremost visible victims, live in developing countries. Below nutrition magnifies the impact of each sickness, as well as measles and protozoal infection. One example tells U.S.A. However biotechnology will contribute to combating world hunger and deficiency disease.

Malnutrition is the related term in medical for hunger. The most recentely estimate of the FAO says that more than 800 million peoples globally are malnourished. This is 12.6 per cent of 6.6 billion people in the world. Many of the 854 million that are undernourished, children being the most visible victims, live in developing countries. Malnutrition magnifies the impact of diseases, including measles and protozoan diseases. Examples tell us how molecular biotechnology can contribute to combating global hunger and malnutrition.

Golden Rice

Approximately 140 million children in low-income groups in 118 countries, especially in Africa and South-East Asia, are deficient in Vitamin A. This situation has compounded into a public health challenge. The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 2.50 to 5.00 lacs Vit. A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight. Golden Rice, created by researchers in Germany and Switzerland, contains three new genes -- two from the daffodil and one from a bacterium -- that helps it to produce provitamin A. This rice is provides a possible way for mass distribution, in part due to the waiving of patent rights by biotechnology companies. This is just one among the hundreds of new biotechnological products, which emphesized to the contributions of molecular biotechnology to society.


Agricultural biotechnology will have secondary effects that enhance resource conservation and defend the environment. By developing drought-tolerant crop sresearchers will facilitate farmers to conserve water resources. Crops that area unit genetically designed to produce Bt toxin need less spraying of pesticides, and reduction in spraying reduces the potential environmental damage caused by pesticides. Agriculture accounts for over 30 % of worldwide greenhouse emission emissions; but, herbicide-resistant crops promote no-till cultivation practices that facilitate to reduce eroding, emissions of greenhouse gases, and carbon loss. The augumentation of conventional breeding with the utilization of marker aided selection and transgenic plants promises to facilitate substantial increase in food production. Thus, biological scienceand biotechnology, in future, used as a robust tool in agriculture for world food security.


FAO (1999): The State of Food Insecurity in the World 1999. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

PERSLEY; G.J. (2000): Agricultural Biotechnology and the Poor: Promethean Science. In: PERSLEY, G.J.; LANTIN, M.M. (eds.): Agricultural Biotechnology and the Poor. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Washington, D.C, pp. 3-21.

QAIM, M. (2000): Welfare Prospects of Transgenic Crops in Developing Countries.

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