It would be inaccurate to say that plant breeders in Canada are ‘a dime a dozen’. A rough estimate places the number of professional plant breeders in Canada at 500. Given the recent innovations available to plant breeders, we thought it would be informative to survey this select group about their technology perspectives and uses. As a result, we invited 430 plant breeders from across Canada to participate in a survey on their use of gene editing in plant breeding.
[Editor’s note: Stuart Smyth is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan.]
Gene editing is a plant breeding technology that has rapidly been adopted by plant breeders …. [G]ene editing …. precisely edits the existing plants’ genes.
The power to change just one gene can make a significant contribution to a new plant and food crop, as proven with a single gene change in sorghum that resulted in a yield increase of 200%. Our results found that one-third of plant breeders surveyed in Canada are presently using gene editing as part of their crop variety development research.
The top advantages expressed by both public and private breeders were the potential for easier regulatory paths to commercialization, the ability to confirm genes of interest, and both the lower cost and access to CRISPR enzymes.