In the Sept. 27 season nine finale of Seed Speaks, we have two distinguished guests who are at the forefront of plant breeding technology and innovation in their respective regions. Petra Jorasch, plant breeding and advocacy manager for Euroseeds based in Belgium, and Mendel Perkins, a lead scientist for Canada’s AgGene based in Calgary, Alta., will join us to shed light on the progress being made in the Canadian and European Union (EU) plant breeding sectors in the field of gene editing. This episode marks the culmination of our season-long exploration of “The Politics of Seed.”
Gene editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, have revolutionized the field of plant breeding. These powerful tools enable precise and targeted modifications to an organism’s genetic code, offering immense potential for improving crop traits, increasing yield, and enhancing resistance to diseases and pests. However, the adoption and regulation of gene editing in agriculture vary significantly across the globe.
Thanks to some new regulatory guidance, Canada is looking to become a pioneer in the field of gene editing for agriculture. Mendel Perkins will provide insights into Canada’s journey in this realm.
The Canadian plant breeding sector recently got some good news when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency clarified that it will not be regulating gene edited crops the same way GMOs are regulated.
Researchers like Perkins are now looking to adopt gene editing techniques to develop crops with improved characteristics, including increased nutritional content, reduced pesticide dependency, and enhanced resilience to environmental stressors. Perkins will share his perspective on the regulatory environment in Canada and how it has facilitated innovation in plant breeding.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Union has taken a different approach to gene editing. Petra Jorasch, a representative of Euroseeds, will enlighten us on the EU’s stance and progress in gene editing for plant breeding. The EU scientific community has been navigating a difficult regulatory landscape, distinguishing for the benefit of policy makers the difference between GMOs and newer genome-edited crops. Jorasch will discuss the EU plant breeding community’s efforts to strike a balance between fostering innovation in agriculture and ensuring the safety and transparency of gene-edited products.
The conversation with our two guests will not only provide a snapshot of the progress made in Canada and the EU but will also explore the global implications of their approaches to gene editing. As the world grapples with the challenges of feeding a growing population while preserving natural resources and biodiversity, the role of gene-edited crops in sustainable agriculture cannot be overstated.