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CRISPR gene editing could speed up photosynthesis and boost crop yields—But it will take time

| | March 30, 2017
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Unlike previous approaches to GM crops that introduce foreign DNA into an organism, genome editing achieves much the same outcome as selective breeding—but in a much faster and more selective way and without having to rely on natural genetic variation.

It effectively acts like a find-and-replace tool in a word processor, allowing researchers to target very specific sections of DNA and delete or substitute them. Aside from allaying some people’s fears about ‘Frankenstein food,’ the approach is also cheaper, easier and more precise than earlier approaches.

Further down the line, genome editing may even make it possible to precisely engineer more complex traits, such as photosynthesis efficiency. A 2015 study in Cell showed that supercomputers are making it possible to model the entire photosynthetic pathway and identify bottlenecks that could be targeted by genetic engineering.

But it could be a long time for these innovations to translate into yield boosts. “Anything we discover in the lab now won’t be in a farmer’s field for 20 to 30 years,” lead author Stephen Long, a plant biologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told Sci Dev.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How to Feed 9.7 Billion People? CRISPR Gene Editing For Crops

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