Since the outbreak of the deadly novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the city of Wuhan in China, millions have been affected and killed around the globe. Along with that emerged multiple conspiracy theories against genetically modified crops, farming technologies and gene editing. Anti-technology activists received their share of stimulants to fabricate new myths around the same line. They have completely ignored the scientific studies and approvals of gene modifications being undertaken globally to produce viable vaccines and treatments for offering diagnosis and cure for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Numerous controversial rather baseless statements have been passed by the anti-technology groups, all aimed to target genetically modified crops as a primary responsible factor for the ongoing pandemic.
The fact of the matter is that the global pandemic along with associated lockdowns has brought out the importance of technology in understanding various climatic and biological challenges as well as regional self-reliance. Agricultural technology can help to address all these challenges by developing climate adapted food crops to meet the local as well as regional needs. Technology can also help in efficient use of resources, lowering agricultural inputs and maintaining soil and other natural resources in a sustainable manner. Gene editing technology, with its short timelines and economical implementation, offer the best solution for crop improvement and adaptation in the various agro-climatic zones.
The technology has also been used for the diagnostic kit development for testing the COVID-19. Gene editing is also being used to develop nutritionally enhanced crops like rice fortified with vitamin A, offering a bundle of advantages for poorer countries where most people, majorly children face blindness, death or malnutrition due to the inadequate vitamin A in their diet. On the other hand, Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) , Spain, is relying highly on developing antigens for COVID-19 in genetically modified lettuce and tobacco.
Such high is the potential of gene edited crops grown under the new technology-based agriculture constituting the third era of agritech revolution. The onset of COVID-19 pandemic has threatened world’s food reserves when the United nations has alerted them about the probable scarce resources. Hence, deploying the appropriate biotech and infotech tools to address agricultural challenges is the best application put to use by several governments. This will help in growing disease resistant, high yield and speedy supplies to meet any future crisis.