Gene Editing: A Potential Game Changer for Crop Agriculture | CoBank Knowledge Exchange Brief

Gene Editing: A Potential Game Changer for Crop Agriculture | CoBank Knowledge Exchange Brief


Interest, innovation and investment in CRISPR
and gene editing technologies continues to heat up, with many describing it as “Game
Changing” and “Revolutionary”. But what is all the buzz about and what does
it mean for crop agriculture and specialty crops in particular? Regulatory, technology, and IP barriers are
relatively low and the benefits are vast – improving the nutrition of our food while allowing farmers
to produce more with less. Additionally, development cost and time is
significantly reduced. Developing a new variety using gene editing
typically takes 3-5 years vs. 5-10 for GMOs or more than 10 for mutagenesis and cross
breeding. And GMO typically costs more than 100 million
dollars; whereas gene editing will typically cost less than 10. This time and cost reduction opens the door
to researchers and companies outside of traditional biotech and increases the potential pace of
innovation. This is particularly relevant to specialty
crops which have not seen the same biotech attention in the past as other larger acreage
crops. While this is all very exciting, gene editing
is still a relatively new technology and faces a number of challenges ahead; perhaps the
greatest of which is consumer acceptance. Developing this technology in a responsible
way and accurate and transparent communication about the technology and the benefits that
matter most to consumers will be critical to its widespread success.

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