Global developments of genome editing in agriculture


Genome editing, particularly using of site-directed nucleases such as the CRISPR system, has spread rapidly through the biological sciences. Genome editing in crops could significantly speed up the progress of breeding programs. It could drive the development of traits in new crops and allow improvements in yield and pest resistance, adaptation to climate change, and industrial and pharmaceutical applications. However biofortification is a key challenge to satisfy nutritional needs in vitamins for developing countries and new consumer’s needs for developed countries. China and the USA lead scientific research in crop editing. Nigeria, being headquarters to numerous research consortia, is the most involved country in Africa. Genome editing in animals including pig, cattle, sheep, and carp, has not merely accelerated research but has made possible research that was previously unfeasible. It has been used to increase disease resistance, to make livestock better adapted to farming or environmental conditions, to increase fertility and growth, and to improve animal welfare. The USA, the UK and China are the most involved countries in animal genome editing. Global food production needs to increase as much as 70 per cent to support the growing population. Genome editing could contribute improving the efficiency of food distribution and reducing waste. Depending on the regulatory conditions, genome editing could open up the field to smaller companies and public labs.

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The author would like to thank Dr John Davison for constructive criticism of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Agnès Ricroch.

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Ricroch, A. Global developments of genome editing in agriculture. Transgenic Res 28, 45–52 (2019).

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  • Crop
  • Livestock
  • Nucleases
  • Gene editing