Human security

Gene editing is crucial for food security and environmental sustainability

Gene editing is the most efficient because precise modification of the existing DNA of a living organism can be done

The world’s population is growing rapidly, and this creates a series of challenges for food security. The rapid shrinking of green cover to make way for agricultural production has raised concerns with climate change showing its effects. There must be a viable and sustainable mechanism that ensures adequate food production and reduces stress on the ecosystem. We must seek advances in plant breeding that can support sustainability. Through various research carried out by scientists around the world, gene editing technology has proven its usefulness in helping farmers conserve water, reducing farm inputs while ensuring optimal and even higher crop production. I believe gene editing is crucial for food security and environmental sustainability.

Gene editing is the most efficient because precise modification of the existing DNA of a living organism can be done. There is no addition of foreign matter. Moreover, adjustments are indistinguishable from natural mutations. CRISPR is a gene editing technique that allows a specific “target” site in the genome to be modified. It was introduced in 2012 and since then it has transformed biotechnology. The CRISPR technique has enormous potential to meet existing and new agricultural challenges.

The CRISPR technique allows scientists to achieve the desired results, which would take years or decades otherwise using traditional plant breeding technologies. It helps to increase genetic variability. The capabilities of CRISPR technology go beyond food crops, as they can also be used to improve forests, restore biodiversity, and cure various diseases. It can complement applied biotechnology and significantly transform our agriculture. It can shorten reproductive cycles, speed up crop research, and achieve target results fairly quickly compared to conventional methods. In gene editing, techniques such as TALEN and CRISPR exclude the introduction of foreign DNA.

People, activists and policymakers can rely on gene editing technology because it has been shown to not only contribute to the sustainability of high yielding varieties, but also bring positive changes to human health.

GABA tomato developed using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology may help lower blood pressure and promote relaxation. Japan has authorized the sale of this tomato in commercial markets. There have been undue apprehensions about food crops produced by gene editing.

There is a feeling of unanimity among researchers and scientists about the safety of genetically modified products. However, the general population needs more information about the technology. People look for naturalness in the food they eat, which makes them avoid novelty or additives. However, they don’t know that the food we eat today has been bred for genetic changes for decades and is far from their ancestors.

The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. Urbanization, pollution and climate change make it difficult for agricultural production. Farmers cannot cope with crop losses and the huge expenditure on agricultural inputs. Genome editing can help us make crops disease, drought and flood resistant and high yielding. This increases the climate resilience of agriculture, protects farmers from losses and enables farmers to obtain safe and nutritious food. The problem of malnutrition in different parts of the world can be solved by bio-fortification of crops using gene editing. Gene editing allows important manipulations in plant species that result in higher yield and nutrient rich as well as improved and sustainable future species. Gene editing provides solutions to many of the problems facing humanity as it helps produce desirable traits with safe genetic modifications.

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