Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Published (as Chapter 5) in Chris A. Wozniak and Alan McHughen, eds., Regulation of Agricultural Biotechnology: The United States and Canada (2012); doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2156-2_5


Copyright © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Used by permission.


Modern genetics has shown the power of modifying microbes, from viruses to bacteria to algae, to produce desirable agricultural products. Nevertheless, gene additions or modification have led to relatively few products in the marketplace due partly to costs of regulation, but also to the challenges of production, delivery and application. Some products with gene loss have been marketed, notably Agrobacterium radiobacter with a deletion for plasmid transfer, some veterinary vaccines and plants with one or a few genes from microbes for plant protection. Concerns over using live microbes are centered on recombination with wild type strains, potential for environmental risks, market acceptance, market scope, monitoring costs, and costs of production. The challenges in microbial agricultural plant biotechnology far outweigh those in medical and veterinary biotechnology because of pricing potential, larger markets and controlled environments in which modified microbes can function. Nevertheless, the promise and need for control of plant pathogens for which little or no plant resistance is available warrant continued efforts in this area. Veterinary uses of modified microbes will continue and be more widely accepted. Plants “vaccinated” with genes for plant protection are increasingly used but their safety is still questioned and debated. Products such as enzymes from GMOs will continue to enter the marketplace and be accepted with few questions.