Agrigenomics Yields a Next-Gen Cornucopia

Benefits of genome editing and molecule-sensing technologies in agriculture include more sustainable crops and healthier foods. Consumers may soon begin purchasing fun-sized fruits and vegetables, as well as processed foods that incorporate healthier ingredients, such as oils that are relatively free of “unhealthy” fats. And producers may be able to grow crops that are drought- and flood-tolerant, yield more per acre, and are easier to harvest and transport—and are tastier, more nutritious, and less allergenic, too. These are just a few of the possibilities that are being realized thanks to recent applications of gene editing technology in crop science. Gene editing technology takes agricultural biotechnology beyond transgenic technology, which transfers “as is” genes from one species to another. Essentially, gene editing is more refined than transgenesis. This difference may justify the view that gene edited plants are not, like transgenic plants, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Regulatory requirements and consumer attitudes may hang in the balance.