Biotechnology gives plant breeders a leg up in ‘evolutionary arms race’ against crop diseases

| | July 14, 2020
wheat rust disease
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

While crop pests and diseases can be spread by environmental factors, such as the wind, they also move into new places via global trade, traffic and transport. As the world prepares to feed its expected population of more than nine billion people by 2050, preventing plant disease outbreaks is becoming more urgent.

Indeed, this has been recognized on a global scale with the United Nation’s declaration of 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health …. “There is a constant evolutionary battle between pathogens and their hosts,” Helen Fones, a plant pathologist from the University of Exeter, tells SciDev.Net. “Each continually evolves to overcome the latest strategy that the other has created to infect or resist infection.”

Related article:  Podcast: CRISPR immunizes pigs against PRRS—deadly viral disease that costs $600 million annually

Some biochemists argue that the most effective protection against a pandemic is to avoid plants getting sick in the first place.

“Modern plant science has produced more targeted, efficient tools for crop breeding, allowing us to alter the genomes of crops,” Diana Horvath, president of the 2Blades Foundation, tells SciDev.Net.

Horvath says [2Blades] scientists can engineer seeds with gene stacks, where multiple resistance genes and modes of action make it much harder for a pathogen to infect the plant.

This multiple resistance approach for fighting infections is already seen in the biomedical world, she says, with AIDS ‘triple cocktail’ treatments and triple antibiotic ointments.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
a a b b a f ac a

Video: Death by COVID: The projected grim toll in historical context

The latest statistics, as of July 10, show COVID-19-related deaths in U.S. are just under 1,000 per day nationally, which is ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
types of oak trees

Infographic: Power of evolution? How oak trees came to dominate North American forests

Over the course of some 56 million years, oaks, which all belong to the genus Quercus, evolved from a single undifferentiated ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend