Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CRISPR Technology and Agriculture

A nice article related to CRISPR technology and an application with waxy corn in a recent DTN article: 

The article gives a nice description of how CRISPR works as a gene editing technique, and the current and prospective regulatory environment surrounding it.

This is really interesting given the recent Vermont GMO labeling requirements, and the national ramifications. How will consumers perceive this newer technology? It has always been the case that recombinant DNA or transgenic approaches were much more precise than random wide genetic crosses, but this technology is much more like a very controlled within genome manipulation. Organic and conventional methods may use radiation or mutagenic chemical agents to create desirable within genome changes, but this technology is much more specific and targeted. We know exactly what we are wanting to achieve or what pathways or genes we want to target vs. blasting a genome with radiation or chemicals hoping for the best. Foodies, activists, and snake oil marketers will be hard pressed to criticize and demonize this technology in the face of what is going on in the natrural, conventional and organic space.I have heard John Phipps mention several times on the AgriTalk Friday free-for-all  discussions that this technology will make the GMO labeling dilemma irrelevant and it might.

It probably won't happen, but given the merger mania currently going on in agriculure, what if some company decided to acquire Monsanto and declare it was ending all GMO R&D in the pipeline? Wouldn't they appear to be saving the day to some activists? When really, they are just restructuring with a focus on CRISPR mediated products. A direction we could be going anyway. I have my doubts about this simply because it would seem that CRISPR could also make transgenic manipulations easier as well and there is certainly a lot of value to be gleaned from this.

Regardless, whether we are talking about finely textured beef, growth promotants, biotechnology etc. no matter how much safer, sustainable, profitable, or healthy, activists and rent seeking niche marketers will find some issue to drum up consumer ignorance and fear to promote sales of their products or policies.

No comments:

Post a Comment