A Gene-edited Crop Coming to a Market Near You: When Gene-edited Crops Meet the Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain

The market demands that less inputs be used in agricultural production. This means a reduction in chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, for example. Meanwhile, the continuous growth in food demand from a growing population requires more production, with fewer options for land expansion. Gene-editing (GE) technology has put the seed industry in the sweet spot amid this transition in production practices.

Gene editing provides a direct change to a plant’s genetics, creating crops that meet our needs in a much shorter time compared with conventional breeding. Most countries have deregulated GE and kept it outside of the strict regime for genetic modification (GM). For crops that are considered too controversial to apply GM technology, such as wheat and barley for human consumption, GE offers an opportunity to create a more stable food supply. The expectations for GE products to facilitate this transition are high and so are the investment opportunities.

However, challenges remain for GE products. Although it is still too early to judge whether current GE products will be successful, we see GE technology improving all the time, with more and better applications coming in the years ahead to disrupt our food and agricultural production systems. Meanwhile, the supply chain needs to educate all stakeholders for a smoother adoption.