Someday soon, much of the produce available in grocery stores will be the result of genetic engineering-a synthesis of molecular biology and plant genetics to produce crops that yield greater harvests and are better able to resist insects, diseases, and environmental conditions such as drought and frost.

Research efforts in engineering genes in major crop plants are not restricted to one segment of the scientific community. These investigations are being actively pursued by governments worldwide, major corporations, and private institutions. And as research activity in this field blossoms, so will opportunities for molecular biologists and plant geneticists.

What makes these future advances noteworthy is that they will be accomplished not through the time-honored technique of genetic cross-breeding, but by methods that introduce new genetic material directly into a plant's DNA. "The tools to transfer genes between plants are being developed now, and they are very powerful," says Randall Niedz of...

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