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Biotechnology of Food Crops in Developing Countries

Tropical crops such as cowpea, yam, plantain, and cassava are heavily underresearched but, in addition to rice, maize, wheat, and potato, are important as primary or secondary food staples in the developing countries. The modern tools of molecular and cellular technology offer the opportunity not only to make substantial gains in knowledge of these crops, but also they overcome some of the obstacles which presently restrain both the genetic improvement and the productivity of these crops in tropical farming systems. Increased nutritional value of these crops, reduced post-harvest perishability, and lower costs of production are some of the advantages taken from biotechnology. Engineered genetic resistance would also allow to drastically reduce employment of pesticides, which at present are expensive or unavailable for farmers in developing countries and may create environmental and health hazards. In this book experts present opportunities to improve the efficiency of plant breeding programs also taking into account the ethical and sociopolitical aspects of these technologies.
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