NC State Extension

What Are Some New Break-Throughs and Findings in the Genetic Engineering Field That You Can Share With Me?

Many, many interesting things are being developed as well as better techniques. I will list a few.

a. the use of genetic engineering (GE) to reduce photorespiratory losses. Steps toward making c3 plant metabolism more like c4 plants could greatly increase yield and save water by increasing water use efficiency of plants.

b. CRISPR is a relatively new gene editing technology that allows scientists to remove, amplify, or insert genes. For example you could remove or silence the genes responsible for food allergens like in peanuts. CRIPSPR also allows very precise placement of transgenes compared to ballistic or agrobacterium mediated gene transfer.

c. the enviropig, produces phytase so it can digest phosphorus in the plant. This eliminates the need for phosphorus supplements in feed and more importantly greatly reduces the amount of phosphorus in pig manure. Excess phosphorus build up in soils where organic or conventional farmers use manure for fertilizer is an environmental concern.

d. AquAdvantage salmon and high omega 3 crops. AquAdavantage salmon has been genetically engineered to reach market weight in half the amount of time and with less feed. This could make salmon cheaper and more available to poorer people. At the same time, scientist have developed high omega 3 oil producing crops like soybeans and canola. Salmon cannot make omega 3 but accumulate it in their diet. High omega 3 crops could replace fish in the farmed salmon diet, reducing the need for fishing for feeder fish.

Keith Edmisten, Professor of Crop Science