There is an increased awareness amongst the consumers regarding nutrition and food safety. The farmer today, needs to address the consumer demands as well as feed the growing global population. In the current pandemic, the demand for plant-derived products is on the rise and crop improvement to meet the plethora of demands from various sectors is now the top priority for plant breeding. Breeding crops that yield better along with having improved consumer traits like nutrition, shelf life etc. is the key to a successful farming today. Technological advancements have allowed our farmers to improve crop production by better understanding their soil, nutrients need of soil and planting time and pattern. In a nutshell, with the introduction of Science and Technology in farming, farmers are seeing positive outcomes.
Plant breeders are also adopting a new tool called Gene Editing for improving crops for higher yield, adaptability to drought conditions, disease resistance, higher nutrition and better taste. To give a few examples of the tremendous impact gene editing can have in addressing major farming challenges – it’s being used to address a citrus greening disease that’s impacting orange growers worldwide and Panama disease of banana that hit Southeast Asia in 1992 and has destroyed tens of thousands of acres of Cavendish bananas in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, severely affecting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Gene editing allows scientists to make targeted edits to an organism’s DNA to add a desirable characteristic or to remove an undesirable characteristic in a precise and efficient manner. Thereby, accelerating the research time from 7 to 25 years as required in conventional breeding to 2 to 3 years.
Widespread application of the gene-editing technology in Agriculture will boost crop harvests and thus improve food quality across the globe for the benefit of humanity.