Comparative Essay: Conventional Plant Breeding Vs Genetic Engineering
Conventional breeding and genetic engineering are some of the most popular and widely used breeding methods across different parts of the globe.
Traditionally, plant breeders exchange genes between two parent plants to produce offspring with the desired characteristics. This is normally done by transferring male pollen of a male plant to a female organ of another parent plant. This type of cross breeding is beneficial but is highly limited to exchanges between closely related species or the same.
Genetic engineering on the other hand enables plant breeders to bring together useful genes from a variety of living sources in one plant. Genes are not generated from closely related plants or from within crop species. Genetic engineering therefore allows scientists, farmers and breeders to achieve the desired plant breeding results within a short span of time.
Similarly, conventional breeding can take a very long time for a breeder to achieve the desired result. In some cases, the traits of interest may not exist in any related plant species. Genetic engineering takes a short period of time because of technologies and chemicals used in the process. This is why many people tend to shy away from this form of breeding.
In traditional plant breeding, breeders aim at exchanging genetic materials of plants to produce different varieties with useful characteristics. Through genetic engineering, breeders are able to generate more superior plant varieties by exposing the seeds to chemicals and gamma radiation. This can easily cause genetic mutation and other diseases.
In conventional plant breeding, farmers use up to 40 percent of genetic material in plants to get hybrid. In genetic engineering, farmers only alter one or two genes at a time to get the desired result. Therefore, it offers a more predictable result compared to traditional breeding.
Where conventional plant breeding techniques are highly effective in generating the desired plant traits, they will be used over many years. Genetic engineering on the other hand allows for a broader range of useful plant characteristics. The traits are incorporated into a given crop.
Additionally, conventional plant breeding is considered an imprecise technique because of the crosses used in breeding. Genetic engineering is very precise.
Traditional plant breeding is also a slow selection process while genetic engineering is a fast breeding process.
In genetic engineering, the transfer of a genetic material that is completely different from an organism also makes it beneficial. This is a feature that doesn’t happen in any other form of plant breeding technique. Traditionally, breeders and farmers have to save seeds from a plant that has favorable traits for better taste and higher yields. By doing so yearly, farmers create new crop strains.
Conventional breeding allows for higher yields and more nutritional crops that are highly resistant to pests and crops.
The debate about the safety of genetic engineering continues because consumers have environmental, health and philosophical concerns.
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