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Could genetically modifying wheat be the answer to food security!

Immediately after China authorised the production of the first genetically modified wheat variety, a major trial of genetically modified wheat has been launched in Australia…

Australian seed breeding firm Integrain has launched a trial to grow genetically modified seeds in a greenhouse environment. Earlier this year, the Perth-based company, majority owned by the Western Australian State Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), imported wheat seeds produced by Inari.

The US agri-tech firm applies CRISPR-Cas to modify the seeds’ DNA genes and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to map gene edits.

What is CRISPR?

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a revolutionary technology used to edit genomes, allowing scientists to alter multiple DNA sequences simultaneously. CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins are enzymes directed by RNA molecules to specific locations in the genome to make a cut in the DNA.

Proponents of gene editing say the technology could pave the way for 10 percent higher yields, less water, fertiliser and chemical requirements and more nutritious, hardy crops.

Unlike genetic modification (GM), gene editing does not involve foreign DNA. Instead, the existing natural genome is manipulated. Regulators therefore see it as less risky than GMO and closer to traditional plant breeding. This is an important reason why the Chinese government recently gave the green light for a gene-edited wheat variety to be produced on a commercial scale.

Higher productivity…

What is CRISPR?

According to two agricultural technology companies, gene editing can generate revenue 10-15 times faster than conventional plant breeding.

China’s approval stems from the disease resistance of gene-edited (GM) wheat, as well as its potential to provide technological possibilities for other GM crops for human consumption. The ministry has also given the green light to a new biotech maize variety with herbicide and insect-resistant properties, as well as a high-yielding genetically modified maize hybrid…

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