Viewpoint: Farming one of the ‘most inefficient industries.’ The CRISPR revolution could change that

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Credit: Michael Gottschalk/Photothek/Getty Images

Agriculture is one of the most inefficient industries on the planet. Current industrial farming methods demand unsustainable amounts of water, fertilizer, and land. This demand will only intensify as our global population climbs towards 10 billion by 2050. To sustainably feed our world, we need a second agricultural revolution.

It’s no surprise to find synthetic biology leading this revolution. To disrupt and transform old industries, we need to work with nature, not against it. That’s the philosophy behind Inari, one of the newest companies reimagining the agricultural space. Inari is leveraging the gene-editing technology CRISPR to build the world’s first Seed Foundry™. We spoke with Ponsi Trivisvavet, CEO and director of Inari, about the company’s process and vision for the future of agriculture.

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The genomic diversity of plants is central to Inari’s mission. In order to produce crops optimized for a wide range of climates, altitudes, and soils, the company needs a catalog with as many options as possible. “We use diverse tools that are true to nature in order to bring biodiversity back into crops, and this allows crops to actually have better productivity,” says Trivisvavet. Certain crop phenotypes require less water or utilize fertilizer more efficiently. Reintroducing these crop varieties back into the field can reduce cost burdens on farmers and dramatically improve soil health.

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