Phytosanitation and the development of transgenic biocontrol agents

David M. Weller and Linda S. Thomashow USDA-ARS, Root Disease and Biological Control Research Unit, Washington State University, Pullman, United States

By the year 2050, there will be at least 9 billion people on Earth to feed using the same amount or less land and water than is available today. Currently, about one-third of all potential agricultural commodities grown worldwide are lost to diseases, weeds, insects and other pests. Farmers will be challenged to produce more, but to do so using sustainable cropping practices and less fertilizer and pesticides. Biological control is an integral part of sustainable agriculture. This chapter provides an overview of the topics of the construction, activity and use of transgenic biocontrol agents (BCAs) and their future potential in 21st century agriculture.

Introduction

It is expected that by the year 2050 there will be more than 9 billion people on Earth to feed using the same amount or even less land and water than is now available for agricultural production. Currently, about one-third of all potential agricultural commodities grown worldwide are lost to diseases, weeds, insects and other pests, either before or after harvest. Farmers are being challenged to grow more, but with less fertilizer, pesticides and fumigants, and to use more sustainable practices such as direct seeding (no-till), precision farming and biological control. In the United States and elsewhere, farmers also are being asked to produce the biomass for 21st century biofuels. To meet these challenges to reduce losses from pests and to increase production, all types of traditional and new pest management technologies are needed. Genetically engineered biocontrol agents (BCAs) will need to be a part of these agricultural technologies. This chapter provides an overview of the topics of the construction, activity and use of transgenic BCAs and their potential in 21st century agriculture.

 
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