Gene editing approach aims for broad disease resistance in staple food crops

by Gabe Saldana, Texas A&M AgriLife

A novel gene editing approach could hold the key to broad-spectrum disease resistance in certain staple food crops without causing physical detriment to the plants, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Dr. Junqi Song, AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Dallas, explores how a “knock-in” gene editing approach might achieve better disease resistance in a wide range of crop plants. Continue reading

Florida researchers conduct surveys on public acceptance of genetically modified crops

Whether the term is “GMO,” “genetically modified,” “gene editing” or the like, people in the general public distrust any word or phrase associated with the modification of food crops. To determine what the public knows and try to educate them, University of Florida researcher Brandon McFadden and three of his colleagues will use a new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to conduct focus groups and create educational materials.

McFadden and his team, University of Florida researchers Kevin Folta, Joy Rumble and Katie Stofer, will use the results of focus group surveys to prepare web-based national surveys. The surveys will try to gauge consumer preferences for regulations and consumption of gene-edited crops. Ultimately they will also help the team develop communication strategies and outreach materials. Continue reading

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Invests in Research on the Implications of Gene Editing Technologies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced awards to advance research on public engagement and the implications of gene drive and other gene editing technologies. The funding is made possible through the Social Implications of Emerging Technologies initiative within NIFA’s Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC)’s program area.

“Recent advances in gene editing technologies promise opportunities for meeting challenges that come with a rapidly growing global population,” said NIFA Acting Director Tom Shanower. “However, these advances also raise important questions about their acceptability and potential unintended impacts, so NIFA created the Social Implications of Emerging Technologies program in 2017 to fund research on stakeholder and public engagement with gene drive and other gene editing techniques for agricultural use.” Continue reading

Webinar on Gene Editing: A Next-Generation Tool for Invasive Species Management?

Biotechnology is a transformative technology, giving rise to a range of new products and applications, including for invasive species management. New developments in gene editing, such as CRISPR-Cas, allow us to easily rewrite sections of an organism’s DNA in a way that promotes the spread of maladaptive traits through a population. These “gene drives” hold promise as a method for controlling or even eradicating major invasive species, such as herbicide-resistant weeds, disease-vectoring mosquitoes, rats on islands, and Asian carps. However, this powerful technology also raises important questions about ethical ramifications, risk management, and appropriate application and regulation.
 
This webinar will convene experts to introduce this emerging technology and its potential application to the control of invasive species and to discuss the difficult questions on how to navigate the deployment of this new tool.

Date and Time: February 18, 2-4 PM ET

Click here to REGISTER Continue reading