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Jim Radtke may not be a gene whisperer, but his California-based plant genetics company, Cibus, has developed technology that allows it to communicate with and influence plant genes to produce desired traits.
Whether it be something like herbicide resistance, or drought tolerance in field crops, or producing a different-colored petal in a flower, as examples, the process known as gene editing doesn’t introduce anything foreign into a plant gene, says Radtke, a Cibus vice-president. “It is not GMO”, he says.
Rather the patented technology relies on the plant’s own natural process to accomplish a “change” which hopefully is the desired new trait. Working with very essence of DNA, Radtke says one base change, changing one nucleotide, is often sufficient to produce the desired new trait. “In the very simplest of terms it is like placing a template in the gene which tells the plant what to do,” says Radtke. “This process could take place naturally in nature over time, so our gene editing technology becomes an alternative to GMO plant breeding programs.”
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Cibus has already used the gene editing technology to develop SU canola, the first non-GMO canola resistant to sulfonylurea chemistry. The SU canola partnered with a product called Draft herbicide has been registered in the U.S. Cibus hopes to introduce the product to Canadian growers in 2016.
It becomes another option for growers on several fronts, says Radtke. SU canola is a non-GMO herbicide-tolerant variety, which in itself might create some marketing opportunities. It is tolerant to different chemistry, which makes it option for farmers looking to extend herbicide rotations and reduce risk of weeds developing herbicide resistance.
Read full, original post: Herbicide tolerant canola, but not GMO