How biotech-wary regenerative agriculture movement can benefit from CRISPR gene editing

Credit: Nature Institute

The link between biotech and conventional farming will no doubt cause many regenerative agriculture purists to balk at the idea of these tools being applicable to their innately more diversified and often chemical-free approach. But bearing in mind the question marks around its scalability, could genetic technologies be a useful tool in the regenerative agriculture toolbox too?

At least one innovator thinks so.

Oliver Peoples is CEO of Yield10 Bioscience a gene-editing startup that started looking at camelina as an alternative to wheat for growers in the Pacific Northwest and Saskatchewan areas.

“Biotech is one very important piece of the larger solution for developing regenerative agriculture which allows farmers to increase revenue. Biotech, and genome editing tools like CRISPR can accelerate the breeding of new crops and crop varieties, which create new markets and make farming practices more sustainable by emphasizing traits that boost yield, nutrition, composition,” Peoples explains.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Calling gene-edited crops 'natural' won't dispel public skepticism. Here's a better way to build trust in CRISPR

“As COVID 19 is reminding us we need to develop technology solutions at an accelerated pace so farmers adjust to climate change, soil degradation, and new pests. Genetic engineering tools including CRISPR will help us create crops that are resilient, higher-yielding, and healthier using the resources that we have. Ultimately, this will keep us on target to meet sustainable food security demands for the growing population.”

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