CRISPR/Cas is one of several genome editing techniques that can be used to specifically induce changes in the genome of plants. For years, there has been an intense debate as to whether the use of genome editing is a curse or a blessing for agriculture.
Some see genome editing as an important tool to solve the agricultural challenges caused by climate change and a growing world population. Critics, on the other hand, argue that the same promises have already been made in classical genetic engineering, but that to this day almost all commercial applications are tolerance to herbicides or resistance to insects.
In any case, it is undisputed that there has been a heightened interest in genome editing since the development of CRISPR/Cas in 2012. To date, genome editing has been used in more than 70 model, cultivated and ornamental plants, and well over 1000 applications of genome editing from over 35 countries have been published in scientific journals.
But what are the concrete results of this research? Can genome editing really be applied to contribute to a more sustainable agriculture? Are there even plants that produce direct health benefits for the consumer? And is it possible to use genome editing to grow plants that are better adapted to extreme weather events caused by climate change?
To help people find an answer to these questions, a CRISPR advent calendar was created, filled with explanations of recent CRISPR applications. Check out the calendar here.