Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Kearneysville, West Virginia » Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory » Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #262187

Title: Transgenic horticultural crops: challenges and opportunities

item Mou, Beiquan
item Scorza, Ralph

Submitted to: Transgenetic Horticultural Crops: Challenges and Opportunities
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2011
Publication Date: 6/3/2011
Citation: Mou, B., Scorza, R. 2011. Transgenetic horticultural crops: challenges and opportunities. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. 364 p.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: At the dawn of the twenty-first century, food insecurity and malnutrition continue to plague humankind, especially in third-world countries. It has been estimated that world food supplies must increase by up to 50% over the next 20 years due to population growth, even while farming land is being rapidly lost to housing, transportation, and industrial uses. Global warming and climate change also pose serious threats to agricultural production and place unprecedented pressures on the sustainability of food supplies. Transgenic field crop production is a major component of modern agriculture and promises to play an important role in meeting the food supply challenges that we face today and in the future. The global planted area of genetically engineered field crops has soared to 330 million acres in 25 countries in 2009, of which 158 million acres (48%) were in the United States. Today, more than three-quarters of the soybean, nearly half of the cotton, and more than a quarter of the global maize production are from biotech varieties, primarily with herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, or stacked genes for the two traits. As the world debates the risks and benefits of plant biotechnology, the proportion of the global area of transgenic field crops has increased every year, and the safety and benefits continue to be demonstrated. Yet, despite the success of transgenic field crops, the commercialization of transgenic horticultural crops (vegetables, fruits, nuts, and ornamentals) has lagged far behind. "Transgenic Horticultural Crops: Challenges and Opportunities" examines the challenges, advances, and opportunities for the creation and commercialization of transgenic horticultural crops. The consumption and production of horticultural products continue to increase, and now, horticultural crops account for 50% of the value for all agricultural crops in the U.S. With the rising demand for fruits and vegetables by health-conscious consumers, there are ever increasing interests in horticultural crops. Although horticultural crops were the first biotech crops commercialized in the United States beginning with the Flavr Savr tomato in 1994, they have not made an impact on production due to factors that include consumer concern over genetically modified (GM) food, which results in the reluctance of processors and marketers to accept the biotech products already developed; complex and costly regulatory processes; the limited acreage of most horticultural crops which make it difficult to recover the costs of research and development; and costly segregation of GM and non-GM commodities. Current practices in patenting and intellectual property protection have added barriers to the use of biotechnology for the creation and commercialization of new horticultural crop varieties. Additional challenges to the development and commercialization of GM horticultural crops include technical difficulties in the transformation of certain horticultural crops, barriers to regulatory approval in many countries, and the uncertainties of post-commercialization stewardship. Although there are many volumes dealing with plant biotechnology and transgenic plants, those focusing on horticultural crops are rare. In "Transgenic Horticultural Crops: Challenges and Opportunities", internationally acclaimed experts from different disciplines assess the current status of transgenic horticultural crops, examine the challenges for the creation and commercialization of horticultural biotechnology, and identify opportunities, strategies, and priorities for future progress in this important field.