Growing food security challenges in Africa opening regulatory doors, softening opposition to game-changing CRISPR crop editing

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Credit: Unicef
Credit: Unicef

Experts from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are now keen to extinguish a lingering assumption that genetic modification, and gene editing, are more or less the same thing, or are closely related.

Leena Tripathi, the Director of East Africa Hub at IITA, insists that genome editing, which is fast gaining popularity, should not be regulated by governments the same way genetic modification (GM) is.

A world that struggles to be food secure, where climate change seems to be on course to exacerbating the food insecurity problem, is grappling for solutions.

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“Nearly a billion people are going hungry in the world,” says Dr Tripathi. With the world expected to host 10 billion people by 2050, serious efforts are needed to increase food production using limited resources.

As human imagination gets stretched, IITA says that genome editing is yet the surest way to ensure the globe has sufficient food that can cater for a rapidly increasing population.

Alongside this, broad-ranging support is required for agricultural improvements in Africa, says Dr Tripathi, including recognition of farmer needs, introduction of high yielding varieties of crops, making planting material widely available and affordable, and facilitation of access to markets.

This is an excerpt. Read the original post here.

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