Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Genetically Tailored Plants - The Non GMO

With the advent of Gentetically Tailored Food instead go GMO's research shows that there is a newer novel approach "genetic engineering improves existing varieties by eliminating undesirable features and activating dormant traits. It transforms plants with native expression cassettes to fine-tune the activity and/or tissue specificity of target genes. Any intragenic modification of traits could, at least in theory,also be accomplished by traditional breeding and trans-genic modification. However, the new approach is unique in avoiding the transfer of unknown or foreign DNA. By consequently eliminating various potential risk factors,this method represents a relatively safe approach to crop improvement. Therefore, we argue that intragenic crops should be cleared through the regulatory process in a timely and cost-effective manner" (

Image Courtesy of
To help educate people about the many methods that are used to generate new traits in plants, 
Biology Fortified has created an infographic on six different crop modification techniques,
with examples of crops generated with each method
"Conventional plant breeding represents the principleapproach to crop improvement. It employs methods suchas introgression breeding, induced mutagenesis andsomatic hybridization to modify randomly genomes and,as a result, create genetic variation (Figure 1a). Phenotypicassessments of segregating progenies can then identify thecommercially important new traits that can be used toimprove farm efficiency and enhance yield. However,today’s crops are still a work-in-progress, and not allimprovements can be delivered by breeding alone. Onenew method creates desired traits by isolating specificgenetic elements from the crop, rearranging them in vitro,and inserting this ‘intragenic’ DNA back into the plant.This alternative approach to genetic engineering producescrops that, mimicking traditionally bred varieties, mightbe easier to commercialize than transgenic plants (seeGlossary).Issues associated with traditional plant breedingSeveral key issues limit the potential of traditionalmethods in plant breeding to enhance quality and yieldfurther. One drawback is based on the fact that geneticvariation is induced at the DNA level but only screened forphenotypically. As a result, new cultivars not only containtraits that the breeder was looking for but also displayundesirable characteristics not considered during theselection process. Indeed, today’s crops synthesize a multi-tude of natural pesticidal compounds and also oftenexpress dozens of allergen-encoding genes [1,2]. Althougha few of the most important allergens were successfullyremoved through mutagenesis [3], the transfer of undesir-able traits from existing to new varieties is generallyviewed as inevitable." (
At the risk of oversimplifying this new technology, here is the link to the original article.

Subscribe to Us  and don't miss our next post where we will discuss more about how "Gentetically Tailored Food" can steer us away from the GMO's of today to a ground up design approach. With the new Crispr technology which is a "gene-editing technique" we can totally change the GMO debate as we know it.

Science Direct, Trends in Plant Science, Vol 12 Issue 9, Pages 397–403 Sep 2007. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Technology Changing the Future of Agriculture - Sensors

"Farming may be an ancient industry but the latest progress in agricultural
science and technology could change how the world eats" (Staff Blog, IOE)
Image Courtesy of 

Technological advancements in the agriculture industry are mind boggling; to think that we have come a long way from the way from 8000 BC and how crops were "sowed, tended and reaped...The people of Jericho are the first known to have lived mainly from the cultivation of crops" (Gascoigne). tells us that,
"Agriculture is a vibrant sector and plays a major role in the economy of the United States. Fortunately, as our culture has grown more technologically advanced, so have our agricultural technologies. So what changes can we expect to see in the agriculture sector in the future? Although we can only speculate, many people believe that farming production will incorporate the latest technology. In fact, a large number of commercial farms are already employing the latest technologies in their production, packaging, storing and distributing processes" (SLN Staff )
With the advent of Sensors, Gentetically Tailored Food and Automation & Mechanical Engineering the industry is expanding and Fabian at tells us, " Harvests will have to expand in order to feed a growing world population over the next decades. To achieve the goal without expanding cultivated areas at the expense of the environment, agricultural economists largely agree that farmers will have to turn to intensive cultivation and more productive plants" (Schmidt).

Picture of a Sensor Blitzer,
Courtesy of 

Dr. Franz-Ferdinand Gröblinghoff  a Professor at the University of Applied Scieneces in the UK has designed a system that houses two types of reflection sensors. With the data collected it is fed into a software that is specifically designed to allow them to access the data rapidly.  Then later Gröblinghoff measures the data against the original data that was analyzed by a wheat harvester. "The amount of grain is weighed by a sensor on the harvester," he says. "That's also how we get information about moisture and other factors" (Schmidt).

Below are several types of sensors listed on

Soil Sensors: These sensors would enable understanding of current air, water, and soil conditions of a farm in real time.

Livestock biometrics:  Collars with GPS, RFID and biometrics can identify and relay vital information about the livestock automatically in real time.

Crop sensors: These will send data to the application equipment before fertilizer application about the field conditions and the correct amount of fertilizers needed. Drones will be used to identify crop health before prescribing remedy (Schmidt).

Certain types of Sensors do different things, for instance a Gamma Ray Sensor provides this type of information, "Goldbach's colleague Dr. Stefan Pätzold uses a gamma-ray-sensor to look into the soil. The sensor recognizes natural radioactivity that is emitted by isotopes like potassium 40. "We can say a lot about the distribution of these elements in the soil by using the gamma-spectrometer," Pätzold says. The data [is] then used in conventional soil analyses to gather information about the level of clay or sand in the soil"(Schmidt).  This type of information is very important winemakers and could help them recognize even the most minuet heterogeneitie's, The hints of flavors that you get in wines comes from the soil and area it is grown in. Therefore a variety of wines need a variety of soils. In addition to this some vines won't grown in certain types of soil" (En.Haberler.Com).

The "old fashioned" way of cultivating could actually in the near future be replaced with sensors, these sensors could and probably would or will eliminate human error. A prominent researcher Heiner Goldbach who has his Doctorate in Agricultural Plant Science and has contributed and collaborated with others in the field to publish over 72 Journals that have mostly focused on the biological and technical aspects of the agriculture industry, Goldbach says.  "A cultivator gets tired"..."After two hours on the field, in the heat, he's more likely to make mistakes. And the cultivators themselves are aware that the later the day, the higher the danger for them to use unfit grains or accidentally discard good ones" (Schmidt).

Subscribe to Us  and don't miss our next post where we will discuss "Gentetically Tailored Food" that will steer us away from the GMO's of today to a ground up design approach.

Staff Blog, Blogger Ecolonomony. “3 Technology that Could Change the Future of Agriculture.” Ecolonomics, Blogger, 6 Aug. 2015, Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Schmidt, Fabian, Db, cb.  “Agricultural sensors: improving crop farming to help us feed the world.”, Agricultural sensors: improving crop farming to help us feed the world, 29 Sept. 2014, Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Gascoigne, Bamber. “HISTORY OTHE CULTIVATION OF PLANTS HistoryWorld. From 2001, ongoing.  Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.
SNL, Staff. “Future of Agriculture and Farming in the United States.” 
Livestock Nutrition,

Sustainable Livestock Nutrition, 19 Mar. 2014, Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.