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Transgenic plants are plants that have been genetically engineered using recombinant DNA techniques to make plants with new characteristics. Transgenic plants are produced by adding one or more genes to a plants genome, using a process called transformation.
Transgenic plants have been developed for a variety of reasons: longer shelf life, disease resistance, herbicide resistance, and pest resistance. The first transgenic crop approved for sale in the US, in 1994, was the FlavrSavr tomato, which was intended to have a longer shelf life. There are many controversial issues surrounding the use of transgenic crops. One of the most far-reaching issues is what could happen if these crop plants were to escape from the fields and enter into the environment.
Today there are more than 67.7 million hectares (677,000 km²) of transgenic plants being grown throughout the world1. There are three general types of transgenic plants; those with genes to improve the quality of the product, those with genes to allow them to resist disease or herbivory (consumption by herbivores, usually insects), and plants with genes that allow them to be resistant to the effects of specific herbicides.
Transgenic crops are grown world wide, although the greatest concentration of transgenic crops is in the United States, at 63% of the world total in 2003. At that time, 81% of the soybeans, 73% of the cotton and 40% of the corn being grown were transgenic. At that time most of the transgenic crops had genes either for herbicide resistance or for insect resistance1.
- Genetically modified food
- Ecological impact of transgenic plants
- Database of comercially approved transgenic plants, AGBIOS 
1. Pilson, D. & Prendeville, H. R. Ecological Effects of Transgenic Crops and the Escape of Transgenes into Wild Populations. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 0 (0).
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