Genetic Engineering is the deliberate modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material.
In most cases, DNA cannot be transferred directly from its original organism, known as the donor, to the recipient organism, known as the host. Instead, the donor DNA must be cut and recombined with a matching fragment of DNA from a vector "that is, an organism that can carry the donor DNA into the host. The host organism is often a rapidly multiplying microorganism such as a harmless bacterium, which serves as a factory where the recombined (recombinant) DNA can be cloned (that is, duplicated) in large quantities. The subsequently produced protein can then be removed from the host, purified, and used as a genetically engineered product in humans, other animals, plants, or bacteria or viruses.
China's research in agricultural biotechnology began in the early 1980s, when the focus was mainly on genetic engineering and molecular marking. Research centered on virus tolerance, insect resistance, improved traits in crops and molecular breeding.
Years later, R&D and applications of biotechnological findings in agriculture have progressed rapidly. By the end of 1996, Chinese scientists had conducted research on 47 kinds of transgenic plants involving 103 genes. .
Among one of the first successes at China's Biotech Research Center was the cloning of the toxin gene Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and the development, in 1990, of transgenic plants of paddy rice and cotton with Bt genes. Later, researchers at the center artificially modified, altered and synthesized the Bt gene and cowpea trypsin inhibitor gene (CpTI), which have different insecticidal mechanisms. These genes were then transferred to paddy rice, cotton, poplar trees and tobaccos. The level of resistance of transgenic rice to rice borers is above 90 percent.
Genetic engineering of pest-resistant cotton has also been very successful, and China is only the second country in the world to have artificially synthesized a transferred Bt insecticidal protein gene and developed a pest-resistant cotton variety.