Knowledge for better food systems

Perspective: New plant breeding technologies for food security

This perspective piece argues that new plant breeding technologies such as CRISPR-Cas could contribute to global food security and poverty reduction by increasing agricultural yields and smallholder incomes. The authors note that careful regulation, field testing and communication will be necessary for successful implementation, along with royalty-free access for smallholders.


Zaidi, S.S.E.A., Vanderschuren, H., Qaim, M., Mahfouz, M.M., Kohli, A., Mansoor, S. and Tester, M., 2019. New plant breeding technologies for food security. Science, 363(6434), pp.1390-1391.

Read the full paper here. See also the Foodsource resource building block What is sustainable intensification? and the FCRN blog post Genome editing technique: CRISPR-Cas9 and its role in agriculture.

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Cherry Lavell's picture
Submitted by Cherry Lavell (not verified) on

Just the same safety worries apply to the NBTs as to the old, first-generation GM techniques. Indeed Professor George Church, who led much of the research on (and indeed commercialisation of)  CRISPR. now categorises it as a 'blunt ax' and 'genome vandalism'.  That ought to give anyone pause. See also Robinson C et al, GMO Myths and Truths (2018 edn).




While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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