How to meet growing global demand for food?

Dr Rishi Tyagi

Chennai: Conventional plant breeding techniques have significantly increased crop productivity and yield; however, new approaches are required to further improve crop production in order to meet the growing global demand for food.

Plant breeding will be tremendously benefitted by the new innovative tool of gene editing which is, in fact, a new method of plant breeding wherein specific and precise changes are made in the genome that include insertion, deletion, modifications or replacement of sequences.

The technique is based on the utilisation of historical knowledge of crop cultivation along with the genome sequence data to improve the targeted crop traits. This could be done by modifying genes as per known sequences of variants from same or different species or obtaining a novel gene combination. It is important to note that in most cases, this involves minor modifications and no introduction of foreign DNA.

Dr Rishi Tyagi, coordinator, Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology (APCoAB), Asia- Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), Bangkok, Thailand, said, “Gene editing
can help to improve farming, processing as well as traits preferred by consumers. Several crops grown in Asia-Pacific region like rice, wheat, cotton, banana and cassava etc. with improved traits like disease resistance are in pipeline, developed by gene editing and soon will be ready for the farmers’ fields. The success and potential of this technique to contribute towards innovative plant breeding is dependent on the prevailing regulation for the technique in a given country”.

 

NT Bureau