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"Gene editing is about to supercharge agriculture"

New gene editing tools like CRISPR/Cas9 now let scientists hack into genomes, make precise incisions, and insert desired traits into plants and animals. We’ll soon have corn with higher crop yields, mushrooms that don’t brown, pigs with more meat on the bone, and disease resistant cattle. Changes that took years, decades, or even centuries, can now be made in a matter of months. In the next five years you might eat tortilla chips made from edited corn. By 2020 you might drink milk from an edited cow.

Dubbed the “CRISPR Revolution” these scientific advances in gene editing have huge potential that many experts think could help fortify our food system and feed an increasing population of farmers who are threatened by food scarcity caused, in part, by climate change.

But not everyone is so certain. Beyond the contentious legal battles that have thus far complicated CRISPR science, calling into question who can and can’t use the technology, some consumer rights advocates think these tools will be used to maintain the status quo of an industry based primarily on corporate profit. Meanwhile, residual worry about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may influence the public perception of gene-edited organisms, steering consumers towards the “organic” aisle despite scientific evidence.

Gene editing is, simply put, the act of making intentional changes to DNA in order to create an organism with a specific trait or traits. It’s like using a word processor to edit the words in a sentence. Geneticists insist we don’t confuse this with genetic modification (otherwise called genetic engineering), which introduces new genes from different species in order to achieve desired traits. The difference may sound trivial but experts say it could help calm the concerns associated with GMOs.

Read more at Yahoo! News

Publication date: 4/20/2017

 


 

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