At a time when the world's food supplies are increasingly unable to meet the needs of a burgeoning population, the subject matter of this book has never been more relevant. At the same time, there is significant diversity of opinion concerning the benefits and perceived dangers of the applications of biotechnology in food production. To help inform this debate, the aim of Plants, Biotechnology & Agriculture is to provide the reader with a comprehensive yet concise overview of plants as both biological organisms and useful resources for people to exploit.
The first half of the book gives a basic overview of plant biology including how plants develop and respond to their environment, acting as a primer for those without a biology background and a refresher for students of plant biology and agriculture. These chapters set the scene for an outline of human exploitation of plants, from domestication to scientific manipulation. The complex technologies now being applied to improving crops are then described, guiding the reader through the extensive terminologies and jargon, using focus boxes to illustrate key processes and issues. The final two chapters address society's response to biotechnology, how these technologies are being modified in response to public concerns, and new technologies being developed to meet the challenges of rapid population growth, depletion of non-renewable resources and climate change.