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Gene-edited plants aid food security, researchers say

With renewed attention to implementation and regulation, new plant breeding technologies such as gene editing could make an important contribution to global food security, say a group of plant geneticists and economists.
The authors, from several institutions including the University of Liege, Belgium, and the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Pakistan, catalogue several new technologies to edit genes of plant crops that they suggest “may allay fears associated with GM crops”.
Because direct gene editing doesn’t involve transferring DNA across species – which creates transgenic crops – the paper, published in the journal Science, suggests the new methods could reduce regulatory costs and accelerate innovation.
The technologies include CRISPR-Cas systems: targeted techniques to alter sections of DNA by cutting and replacing specific genes. These represent “an effective suite of applications and molecular tools to precisely and efficiently alter the genome in a user-defined manner,” write Belgium’s Syed Shan-e-Ali Zaidi and colleagues.
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