A novel gene editing approach could hold the key to broad-spectrum disease resistance in certain staple food crops without causing physical detriment to the plants, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.
A new report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) offers a primer on the science of genome editing, along with potential applications and challenges.
Responding to attacks from the anti-GMO movement,” an exasperated geneticist once said to me, “is like trying to stuff a squiggly octopus into a small box; whenever you think you’ve got it contained, you realize there is a tentacle dangling out somewhere.”
That was certainly the case in 2012. For the first time in years, the public debate over genetically engineered (GE) crops had begun to shift in the favor of science and an embrace of the safety of “GMOs” (a term coined by the anti-biotechnology movement to demonize genetic innovation; after all, who would want to eat a ‘modified organism’?!).
The advent of genetically modified crops caused a scandal in the 1990s.
But the younger generation is largely relaxed about eating GM foods, new research has shown, as farmers called for a post-Brexit technology revolution.
When European researchers recently announced a new technique that could potentially replace chemical pesticides with a natural “vaccine” for crops, it sounded too good to be true. Too good partly because agriculture is complicated, and novel technologies that sound brilliant in the laboratory often fail to deliver in the field. And too good because agriculture’s “Green Revolution” faith in fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, and other agribusiness inputs has proved largely unshakable up to now, regardless of the effects on public health or the environment.
The cost of current biotech industry regulations might not be obvious to consumers, but it’s clear to researchers. Read more
Gene editing technology – CRISPR is the best-known example – would be freed from government regulation under a proposal by Australia’s Office of Gene Technology Regulator. After a 12-month technical review of the country’s broad definition of genetic modification, regulator Raj Bhula said gene editing is a faster version of classic breeding practices. Read more
Australia is set to reform how it regulates new genetic engineering techniques, which experts say will help to dramatically speed up health and agriculture research. Read more
In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the green light to a version of the plant Camelina sativa, an important oilseed crop that had been genetically engineered using CRISPR to produce enhanced omega-3 oil. What was interesting about this approval was that the USDA did not ask that the inventors of the plant endure the usual regulatory hoops required to sell biotech crops. The next month, a drought-tolerant soybean variety developed with CRISPR also got a quick pass from the USDA. Read more
Animal and plant breeders are trying out a set of powerful new tools which have the potential to revolutionize agricultural practices and provide consumers with more healthy and safe food options. Read more
Scientists for the first time have successfully edited genes in human embryos to repair a common and serious disease-causing mutation, producing apparently healthy embryos, according to a study published on Wednesday.