Gene Editing–Touching All Avenues of Ag

Twentieth-century advances in plants and animal breeding did much to help the increasing food, fiber, feed, and fuel needs of an expanding world. But continued population growth, resource shortages, climate change, and pest prevalence makes sustainability a daunting yest essential task. Genome editing is a powerful new method that enables unprecedented control over genetic material and offers the opportunity to make rapid advances that influence agricultural practices. In this week’s blog, we highlight gene editing research that has been hitting the newsstand:

The Future of Genome Editing: 
An NC State associate professor shares the limitless possibilities of CRISPR at this year’s Alltech Ideas Conference, stating, “This technology can allow us to make a more sustainable, durable, resistant, and affordable food supply chain.”

Old Research Makes Ground in Indiana:
A centerpiece of the 2011 CAST Commentary titled The Science and Regulation of Food for Genetically Engineered Animals was a case study of the attempt to gain regulatory approval of AquAdvantage salmon. In recent news, the first genetically modified animal for human consumption could be arriving in grocery stores across the U.S. as early as next year.

Building a Better Bean and Banana:
With the use of CRISPR, U.K. researchers are working to make the modern banana safe from disease and developing a coffee bean that is naturally decaffeinated. These scientists believe this technology can help save fruit.

Breeding an Alternative for Painful Dehorning Methods:
As dehorning faces increased public scrutiny, scientists are looking to use gene editing to breed an alternative to this common production practice. Past Borlaug CAST Communication Award winner Alison Van Eenennaam is one of the geneticists leading this study. 

Much Anticipated CAST Paper:
On June 4 in St. Louis, an audience hosted by the Society for In Vitro Biology enjoyed a preview of CAST’s forthcoming gene editing paper. Task Force Chair Adam Bogdanove (Cornell University) presented key information. CAST EVP Kent Schescke introduced the event, and various past and present board members attended, including David Songstad–the CAST Liaison for the publication.

CAST will officially roll out this much anticipated issue paper–Genome Editing in Agriculture: Methods, Applications, and Governance–on July 9 in Washington, D.C.

By: Kylie Peterson

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