CRISPRcon 2020 Revisited: Peering into the Ag Pipeline
The second discussion of CRISPRcon’s theme of Hope and Hype, which was held on Oct. 1, took a deeper dive into what benefits gene editing and prior genetic technologies have delivered thus far in the agriculture sector and what might be on the horizon. The panel also discussed what can we learn from the past regarding the role of biotechnology in addressing pressing agricultural challenges.
Franklin Holley, director of the Agriculture & Food Program at the Keystone Policy Center, moderated the panel and explained the session’s intent.
“This session is not necessarily a catalogue of [new] products. It’s more about whether there’s a potential for societal benefit of gene edited products and how those products should be prioritized and assessed,” said Holley.
“I’m not saying the private sector should not be involved in this. What I’m saying is we’re not going to see the kinds of investments developing some of these systems in orphan crops like cassava or peanuts…we are not likely to see a private company invest in that research because these are just small farmers with very little resources,” said Glenna.
“I think that one of the real distinguishing characteristics about gene editing and the various platforms that are being deployed to make some of these new products is hopefully that cost and application could be wider,” said Doane.
“For me and for Indigenous people, biodiversity is the function of a healthy, functioning ecosystem. And when it comes to biodiversity, Indigenous people around the world—in the global north and the global south—tend to be best at it,” said Newman. “It’s not being done through market-based agriculture.”
“If we want to control some of the impact climate change is having on agriculture, going the way of modern technology is the best way to go. That said, I believe that the potentials for gene editing has more room to improve trust and to improve access than they did for GMOs,” said Abugu.