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Conference paper - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Transgenic vegetables for Southeast Asia

Silva Dias, João; Ortiz Rios, Rodomiro Octavio


Asia produces and consumes more than 70% of the world’s vegetables. Their production and consumption are rising due to increase in consumer’s income. Vegetable production suffers from many biotic stresses and their control requires high amounts of pesticides. About 20% of world’s annual pesticides expenditures are for growing vegetables. Insecticides are regularly applied to control pests causing damage directly on the vegetable plants or by transmitting pathogens, particularly viruses. Genetic engineering enables vegetable breeders to incorporate desired transgenes, into elite cultivars, improving their value considerably, and offering unique opportunities for controlling pests, as well as nutritional quality. Host plant resistance or product quality will increase vegetable value throughout the chain, thereby benefiting farmers, traders and consumers. Although horticulture remains in its infancy regarding the use of transgenic crop technology, US vegetables farmers are benefiting from growing transgenic squash cultivars with resistant to viruses and Bt-sweet corn. Transgenic Bt-eggplant has been bred to provide Asian farmers with cultivars showing host plant resistance to fruit and shoot borer, thereby reducing today´s insecticide spraying during the crop season (40-80 times in India, >50 times in the Philippines). Consumers could benefit further from eating more nutritious transgenic vegetables, e.g. an increase of crop carotenoids by metabolic sink manipulation through genetic engineering appears feasible in some vegetables. Likewise, food safety can be enhanced through transgenic approaches, e.g. resource-poor people in rural Asia and Africa will benefit eating cyanide-free cultivars of cassava. Recently a transgenic bean resistant to Golden mosaic virus, which is transmitted by whitefly and causes up to 85% yield loss, was approved in Brazil and will benefit both producers and consumers. Beans are produced mainly by small growers and are the main source of vegetable protein, iron and many vitamins in Brazil and Africa. Transgenic plant breeding can provide therefore genetically enhanced seed embedded technology that contributes to integrated pest management and nutritional improvement for vegetable production. Transgenic vegetable crops could make important contributions to sustainable vegetable production in Southeast Asia if clear advantages and safety are demonstrated to both growers and consumers.

Published in

Book title: Proceedings Regional Symposium on High Value Vegetables in Southeast Asia: Production, Supply and Demand
ISBN: 92-9058-200-6
Publisher: World Vegetable Center


Regional Symposium on High Value Vegetables in Southeast Asia: Production, Supply and Demand (SEAVEG2012)

Authors' information

Silva Dias, João
University of Lisbon
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, VÄXTFÖRÄDLING, Box 101

UKÄ Subject classification

Plant Biotechnology

URI (permanent link to this page)