Thursday, November 25, 2021

Potential for Gene Editing to Support Sustainable Agriculture

This article from GEN talks about how gene editing can be used to support sustainable energy. Gene editing through the use of CRISPER has the potential to climate proof our food, reduce inputs, and improve nutrition and flavor. Due to rising temperatures, crops have been facing an increase in biotic and abiotic pressures such as drought and disease. Many organizations are trying to find ways to make crops more resilient to these pressures. Gene editing can be used to create crops that are resilient to these changes. Gene editing can also be used to improve animal welfare. In the poultry and dairy industry, male chickens and male calves have little value and are usually sold or killed to reduce costs. Thanks to gene editing, it could be possible to put an end to the disposal of unwanted animals. For example, one gene editing company can identify male eggs before incubation meaning that their would be no need to euthanize male chicks. Gene editing can also be used to reduce the need of resources for the crop such as water. 

When Crisper was first revealed in 2012, many people believe it would be a big part of the agriculture industry but that has not quite happen yet. There are two reasons for this: investing new technologies in this sector is difficult because the seasonality of agriculture leads to long timelines to commercialization and major players in the agriculture industry consolidate gene editing companies stifling competition. This lack of competition has led to low incentives for these companies to invest and develop new technology that can help improve crop production. However, thanks to increasing distrust of these companies and consumers being more aware of environmental issues, an chance exists to use gene editing technologies to improve crop production while also aligning with social issues. Though care should be taken so that commercialization proceeds in a way that promotes competition.

1 comment:

  1. Genetically modified organisms like agricultural based foods has been a large debate in many countries. Most of Europe has a ban on genetically editing foods while certain industries keep a close watch on their genetically edited products. Competition in agriculture in the United States is desired because it boosts the economy allowing farmers to supply and range of demands; whereas in other countries that need improvements in agriculture. GMOs in developing countries need genetically improved agriculture, so that they can compete with bigger industries while at the same time feed their families and countries where agriculture is more difficult.