“It’s not a lot different than conventional breeding. In conventional breeding we did the same thing, but it would take us 10, 15 years to figure out how to get that hybrid, or that variety with the benefits that we wanted.”
Biotechnology has sped up the breeding process
“We’ve got the DNA, for example, on a corn plant mapped out completely, and so if we’re looking for something such as yield, increased disease resistance, water efficiency, something like that, now we can go directly to that gene, we know where that gene is, and we can put it in there.”
The first big biotechnology breakthrough was with soybeans you could overspray for weed control with a chemical that becomes inert when it contacts the soil.
“You could spray Round Up when you needed to, and from a conservation tillage standpoint, it allowed us not to do as much tillage, and we didn’t use as much fuel.”
One of the huge successes was taking an insecticide that occurs naturally in the soil and breeding it into corn plants.
“It controls basically corn ear worms and corn borers. When they take a bite of that plant it kills them, and what it allowed us to do was not have to spray insecticides like we used to, and we used to spray a lot of insecticides. Now, if we have to spray an insecticide, it’s very rare.”
Many growers get a premium for growing cleaner grain.
“We don’t have the insects feeding on it. We’re not spraying the chemicals on it. We’re not spraying insecticides on it like we used to. It’s cleaner, healthier food than what we’ve dealt with in the past.”
Biotechnology, another reason our country enjoys the safest food supply in the world. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From the Ground Up.