High adoption of gene-edited crop seeds is expected in the next five to ten years, a new report by Rabobank suggests.
Although the exact timeline for the adoption of gene-editing (GE) seeds is hard to estimate, researchers expect that adoption rates will surpass 50% within five to ten years.
Rabobank's report says that GE technology has the potential to benefit the entire food supply chain, from producers to consumers.
The US has been the frontrunner in terms of GE applications, as it was with genetically modified organisms (GMO), the report, released today (9 May), explains.
According to the USDA, 169 applications for GE products were submitted in the United States from 2011 to 2020.
These applications covered plants that are for human consumption, feed, industrial uses, and some microorganisms for industry. Some of these applications are expected to be commercialised soon.
According to the report, drivers for GE traits in crops include enhanced crop productivity, drought tolerance, improved crop quality, reduced environmental impact and increased sustainability.
Chia-Kai Kang, farm inputs analyst at Rabobank, says that GE technology has the potential to solve issues across the food supply chain for all stakeholders.
"It can increase crop productivity without expanding farmland area, reduce food waste, reduce harmful substances in food, and reduce pesticide use, among other things."
According to Kang, there are at least five factors that will determine if a GE crop can achieve a high adoption rate.
These include product performance, such as quality, yield, and consistency in performance; and possible long-term risks, such as allergic and toxic reactions.
It also includes disruption to trade flows due to export bans on GE crops; the marketing power, selling strategy, and distribution network of the input company; and access to technology.
Arable crops are getting most of the attention, she said, followed by plants not for human consumption, vegetables, fruits, and microorganisms.
Kang said: “GE traits can benefit the entire food supply chain, directly impacting farmers and farm input companies, but also the grain and oilseed industry and consumers."
Unlike GMOs, which have been in the market for several decades, GE is a relatively new technology, developed less than ten years ago.
The development of GE brings new technology to the table that involves only editing the existing genes of the plant.
This solves one of the major criticisms of GMOs and brings fewer ethical concerns, as well as fewer regulatory constraints in some countries.