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China’s multi-billion-dollar investment in CRISPR could help feed its ‘massive’ population

| | July 30, 2019

[Cell biologist Gao Caixia] is one face of the Chinese government’s bet that CRISPR can transform the country’s food supply …. But she is far from alone in China. Her team is one of 20 groups there seeking to use CRISPR to modify crop genes. “All the labs use CRISPR for basic research,” Gao says. “They cannot live without CRISPR.” China also expanded its efforts beyond its borders in 2017, when the state-owned company ChemChina bought Switzerland-based Syngenta—one of the world’s four largest agribusinesses, which has a large R&D team working with CRISPR—for $43 billion.

China may one day need CRISPR-modified plants to provide enough food for its massive population, notes rice researcher Li Jiayang, former president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing and vice minister of agriculture. “We have to feed 1.4 billion people with very limited natural resources,” says Li, who works at the same CAS campus as Gao, the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology. “We want to get the highest yield of production with the least input on the land from fertilizers and pesticides, and breed supervarieties that are pest and disease resistant as well as drought and salt tolerant ….”

Related article:  Agriculture commissioner says EU must decide if 'science or politics' will drive gene-edited crop regulations

Read full, original article: To feed its 1.4 billion, China bets big on genome editing of crops

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