Transgenic plants, also known as genetically modified plants, are plants that have been modified to carry genes from various sources. While some genes can simply come from other non related plant species, plants can be engineered to carry genes from bacteria, animals and even human cells.
Carrying and expressing foreign genes does not necessarily mean that transgenic plants pose a risk to humans, animals or their environments, but rather that these plants now carry new and sometimes unique traits that are useful for research and agriculture.
Such genes, for example, can make crop plants resistant to herbicides or insects, which enables a reduction in the use of herbicides and pesticides in the field, while others enhance the crop plants' nutritional value, making them more beneficial for human consumption. Future crop plants may also carry genes for salt and drought tolerance, allowing them to grow in arid and salty soils, and even genes that encode pharmaceuticals, for the production of edible vaccines.