Gene Editing Enters the Food Supply
Plant agriculture is poised at a technological inflection point. Recent advances in gene editing make it possible to precisely alter DNA sequences in living cells, providing unprecedented control over a plant’s genetic material. Crops derived through gene editing are already beginning to enter the food supply. Because gene editing technologies are advancing at such a rapid pace, traditional crops will soon serve as genetic chassis that are precisely engineered to produce an array of novel food products—fruit with enhanced nutritional value, flour with increased fiber, protein with a balanced amino acid composition, to name a few. Such crops will also be designed to withstand the many stresses created by a changing environment and to grow with fewer inputs, such as water and fertilizer. Appropriate regulatory structures need to be put in place to ensure that the food products developed through gene editing are safe for use as food and feed and for the environment. Public perception will also impact the extent to which gene editing enters the food supply and whether this powerful technology will contribute toward food security.