The challenge to improve crops in a changing world

Scientists believe that using genomics and biotechnology in plant breeding leads to improved seed varieties that can help farmers to get higher yields to feed billions of people around the world. One of those scientists is Dr Matthew Willmann, Director of Cornell University’s Plant Transformation Facility and a known figure in plant biotechnology.

In his plenary talk on The Impact of Genome Editing on Crop Improvement at the 15th Solanaceae Conference, held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in October 2018, Dr Willmann said:

“Plant scientists are constantly striving to improve crop plants in ways that directly benefit consumers, farmers, and food processors. These efforts are guided by a need to address a set of fundamental problems, including a rapidly growing world population, a changing climate, an ongoing battle against pathogens and insects, worsening soils, the negative effects of agriculture on the environment, and the need for tastier and more nutritious foods.”

Dr Willmann added, “Researchers have used traditional plant breeding and transgenesis to address these issues, but both have significant disadvantages. Recently, genome editing has become reliable in plants, and this advance has the potential to dramatically speed research and crop improvement.”

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