Crop Biotech Update

Experts Push for Organic-Biotech Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture

September 7, 2022

In the race against time to feed the growing global population, all available options to attain sustainable agriculture need to be utilized. Experts from Brazil and Argentina are proposing to use organic agriculture and genome editing in crops side by side to achieve food security.

Organic agriculture and agricultural biotechnology have always been publicly viewed at the opposite ends of the spectrum resulting in small farmers believing that the two agricultural systems are incompatible. It also caused the legal framework of organic agriculture to prevent the incorporation of genetically modified organisms into its production system despite the latter's benefits.

But with the emergence of gene editing tools like CRISPR, experts believe that biotechnology and organic agriculture can become partners to benefit farmers and consumers. They argue that mutagenesis may naturally occur or be achieved through the long process of genetic selection, and that CRISPR-Cas9 provides a fast, controlled option of inducing important properties in plant development without having to introduce a foreign gene to sustainably develop safe, improved plant varieties. They also emphasized that gene-edited foods need to be treated like traditional foods, and that these should be perceived based on a product's features instead of the process of how it was made.

CRISPR technology can help bridge organic agriculture and biotechnology. The partnership is fundamental for mitigating food insecurity, and that denying the benefits of genome editing to organic and small-holder farmers would be, according to the experts, a tragedy of immense proportions.

Read the full paper in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

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