Nacikgoz

At the beginning of 2019, soybean oil with improved quality did took its place on the market shelves. The mentioned soybean oil contains several times less saturated fatty acids and healthier oleic acid than ordinary soybeans. Their most striking feature is that they form less trans fatty acids in frying conditions. This new variety is the first bread commercial plant by new breeding techniques (NBT – gene editing). In fact, an article on the first agricultural product tilapia and also promising products in the pipeline bread by this method, were published in this portal .
It is useful to give a brief description of this new gene regulation: mutation, selection, hybridization and similar classical breeding techniques have been used for breeding new genotypes. Recently, tissue culture, gene transfer and other molecular biologic technique have been introduced. But in the last decades, artificial mutation has served to plant breeders, who bread thousands of varieties developed by X, gamma and similar radioactive rays. Mutation is a spontaneous occurring or with purposeful planned changes in living genes. From 2010, genomic arrangements have started to apply in laboratories by molecular basis. In this method, genotypes can be registered in a short time and reach the producers. Gene regulation includes a number of new gene engineering methods such as CRISPR. In these methods, there is no transfer of any gene from outside like there is in GMOs. On the contrary, new genotypes are created by changing the target gene with the help of transient DNA-cutting enzymes. This application can increase or decrease the effect of gene. We can call this process artificial micro-mutation.

GMOs are going registered after passing through many risk tests such as environment and health before they are placed on the market shelves. Therefore, the cost of a genotype to the company usually is over USD 100 million. For this reason, GMO method is almost synonymous with global multinational companies. On the contrary, the cost of developing genotypes with NBT is almost 1/10th of GMO’s. Such a level is so suitable for local companies, because it can be met even by low-budget new entrepreneurial firms, universities and public institutions.

An entrepreneur biology company Calyxt, located in Minnesota (USA), succeeded a micro mutation application in soybean by gene editing method. They were able to bread a new soy variety, which is registered and has been commercialized within five years and has been sown in 2018 on an area of 6700 hectares. The company focuses mainly on quality of wheat, potatoes, rapeseed and alfalfa. They did not interest too much with yield increment or resistance to disease or pests. So to say they prefer to serve mainly to a group of consumers, oriented towards healthy nutrition! Company do have almost a dozen crops, improved by gene editing in the pipeline: high-fiber wheat, potatoes that stay fresh longer, better-tasting tomatoes, low-gluten wheat, apples that don’t turn brown, drought-resistant soybeans and potatoes better suited for cold storage.

Some countries’ approach on NBT are astonishing. China is leading with 541 projects in gene editing research, followed by USA 387 and Japan with 81 projects. Some example of their gene editing products in pipeline: seedless tomatoes in Japan; low fatty acid soy in the US (in 2019 in market); easier digestible alfalfa in the US; herbicide resistant rice and herbicide resistant flax in Canada; low gluten wheat in Spain; the shelf life extended tomato in Japan etc.

Those will be pioneers for further crop development for plant breeders, who especially want to improve new cultivars for food security under the aspect of global warming.

Generally plant breeders aimed mostly high yield and quality and concentrated on commonly cultivated plants, such as RICE, CORN, WHEAT, SOYBEAN and POTATO. The main reason of this attitude is to reach to the maximum income. Let’s remember! Plant breeding right or royalty is working perfectly in the world. Just a question: In this case how will benefit from the advantage of these techniques EU and developing countries, because they are accepting this method like GMO and banning in their country. It is understandable; developing countries have not established their infrastructure yet. What about EU? EU accepts gene editing as genetically modified organism while it is a biotechnological process and applies the same regulation like GMO. What about a foreign gene transfer? So, import processes also will continue in the same manner for products developed with the gene editing.

Nazimi Açıkgöz
Note This article is compiled from a Turkish article “https://nazimiacikgoz.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/gen-duzenleme-ile-ilk-bitki-soya/”

CRISPR-Cas9, GEN EDITING, GENOM EDITING, New Breeding Techniques, plant breeding, seed, world seed market, GMO, soybean

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