Potato Grower

January 2020

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WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 67 GENOME EDITING: BIOTECH'S LATEST TOOL Biotech products have already provided huge benefits to agriculture, and the coming genome-edited products will provide those same kind of benefits, Huber says. The difference is that while many biotech products have some added DNA, gene editing usually adds no foreign DNA to the plants. "We can potentially just make certain changes to those plants—maybe to increase yield or nitrogen efficiency or drought tolerance," Huber says. "The products are very similar to what you get with conventional breeding, which could be labeled as organic." Genome editing is just a more precise, targeted means to get to a particular end result, Munasifi says. "And we need that more precise, more efficient method of improving varieties so that agriculture and farmers can adapt to challenges." That targeting ability means plant breeders can use this tool to facilitate other resistance—not just resistance to insect pests, but also to pathogens and BETTER TOGETHER ASK YOUR NELSON DEALER ABOUT THE BIG GUN® REBUILD PROGRAM Only Nelson Irrigation makes a full range of products for water delivery on mechanized irrigation. All development and testing is performed with the big picture in mind. No product operates independently. Our sprinklers, regulators, end guns and valves are developed together and made to deliver water as efficiently and effectively as possible. Think of not only us, but also our products as a team. GIVE OUR 3030 SERIES A WHIRL: Press, Spin, Click for On, Off, Flush, Line Flush Functions SAVE WATER, SAVE ENERGY, SAVE LABOR AND DO A BETTER JOB OF IRRIGATING WITH NELSON PRODUCTS. 2363-5NelsonIrrigationCorp12h.indd 1 9/5/19 3:03 PM bacteria. "Those are much harder to get at from a conventional plant breeding perspective," says Chou. "Pathogens and bacteria evolve very quickly with resistance. Genome editing, because of its ability to quickly get at a target, will help growers better manage these disease resistance issues." For now, this tool is still on the horizon. "No genome-edited ag product is widely available commercially at the moment, but something coming to market over the next two to five years is very likely," says Huber. When it comes to oversight of those new products, the USDA, FDA and EPA will have shared responsibility, depending on the intended end use of the product. In March 2018, U.S. secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue put out a statement clarifying the USDA's intentions with genome-edited products. In the statement, the USDA released guidance suggesting that if the modification to a product's genome would have been possible through traditional, conventional breeding, but was instead achieved via genome editing, the USDA does not intend to regulate that product under its biotechnology regulations. Ag industry experts expect the FDA and EPA to clarify their positions and approval processes as they move forward.

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