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Crop Biotech Update

Genetically Edited Plants Will Complement Vertical Farms, Says Aberystwyth Professor

January 29, 2020

Dr. Huw Jones of Aberystwyth University stressed the importance of genetic engineering in the future of agriculture, saying that while there is already a huge innovation in hydrophonic vertical farming and what is lacking is the plant architecture itself as most farmers are still using the old seeds.

Vertical farming has become a popular solution to address the food supply of the growing global population. The technology is projected to expand by 25% by 2024. While the technology to grow foods from the soil has tremendously advanced, Professor Jones pointed out that there is an innovation gap in urban agriculture when the same conventional seeds and plants are still being used. However, he predicts that this will change and that it will require gene editing to be accomplished.

Professor Jones is convinced that there will be a significant innovation in food biotechnology over the next ten years. He also said that understanding gene sequencing can bridge the innovation gap of vertical farming and plant architecture. Transcription gene technology allows researchers to develop new fruits with desirable traits. By investigating gene sequencing deeper, scientists can better understand how to change the internode length of crops. This makes changes in fruiting patterns possible, which can help develop plants that are more suitable to vertical farming and other agricultural innovations.

Professor Jones, however, cited that regulations can slow down the advances of gene editing. But he is optimistic that there is an opportunity for the technology to advance if it is categorized by novel foods legislation instead. He further explained that the genome editing technology has already encouraged interest in plant technology, opening doors of opportunities to more efficient crop production.

Read his statements in the Food Navigator.

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