Selective breeding


  1. Students should be able to explain the impact of selective breeding of food plants and domesticated animals.

Selective breeding (artificial selection) is the process by which humans breed plants and animals for particular genetic characteristics. Humans have been doing this for thousands of years since they first bred food crops from wild plants and domesticated animals.

Selective breeding involves choosing parents with the desired characteristic from a mixed population. They are bred together. From the offspring those with the desired characteristic are bred together. This continues over many generations until all the offspring show the desired characteristic.

The characteristic can be chosen for usefulness or appearance:

  • Disease resistance in food crops.
  • Animals which produce more meat or milk.
  • Domestic dogs with a gentle nature.
  • Large or unusual flowers.
  • Selective breeding can lead to ‘inbreeding’ where some breeds are particularly prone to disease or inherited defects.

Explain why data is needed to answer scientific questions, and why it may be uncertain, incomplete or not available. Outline a simple ethical argument about the rights and wrongs of a new technology.,

Describe and explain specified examples of the technological applications of science. Describe and evaluate, with the help of data, methods that can be used to tackle problems caused by human impacts on the environment.