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Although a variety of micro-organisms such as Rhizobium inoculants have been used in agriculture for decades, there are currently only a few examples of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) in use. For biological protection against insects, Bacillus thuringiensis sprays account for 1.5% of the world insecticide sales, but again, these contain natural isolates. Recently, and probably for the first time, the Australian Government allowed a GMM used in the control of phytopathogens to be sold on the local market. One of the major reasons why so few GMMs are being exploited in agriculture is the difficulty that researchers encounter in monitoring survival and persistence when a micro-organism is released in an environment of which little is known and in which exchanges of genetic material can occur readily. The aim of this paper is to review how micro-organisms have been used traditionally in agriculture, how genetically modified micro-organisms contribute to an improved agricultural activity, and which gaps in our understanding should be filled.

Additional information

Authors: VAN DEN EEDE G, JRC Ispra (IT);VAN MONTAGU M, State University Gent, Laboratorium Genetika (BE)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: 2nd International Conference on the Release of Genetically Engineered Micro-organisms, Nottingham (GB), August 29-31, 1991
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 36485 ORA
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