Gene-Editing Technology to Disrupt Food & Agri Systems

The impact of gene-editing technology on our world is tremendous. We are already applying this technology in four areas: humans, plants, animals, and microorganisms. Because genes are the code for physical traits such as yield, disease resistance and appearance, the power of gene editing unlocks possibilities for designing a biological system to suit one’s needs. Gene editing greatly reduces the time and cost of plant and animal breeding, which is crucial for a resilient supply chain, especially in this era of climate change. Also, it offers added value through innovative products and a longer shelf life. Microorganisms can become easier to engineer, which is beneficial for livestock farming, crop farming and for other uses such as industrial enzyme production and medical production.

To evaluate the application potential of gene editing in plants, animals, and microorganisms, we take into consideration research costs, system complexity, and social reputation. Based on this, microorganisms have the greatest potential for deploying gene technology since it costs less than in plant and animal systems, while it is also the simplest system and has a neutral social reputation. According to these criteria, the second potential system in which gene editing could play a role is that of plants, followed by that of animals.