The Future is Now for CRISPR Technology

Allison Arp

Allison Arp

Iowa Soybean Association

By now the majority of the farming community has heard of CRISPR, the latest gene editing technology expected to save researchers and farmers time, money and regulation. Until recently, CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) was a talking point, something explained to farmers at field days as the future of research. For Iowa farmers, the future is now.

In 2016 and 2017, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) funded research at Iowa State University (ISU) with the goal of improving plant disease resistance and protein levels in a non-transgenic way using CRISPR technology.

“We worked on a project to develop a non-transgenic approach to decrease the cost and time of the regulatory process to commercialize the transgenic product,” said Ling Li, principal investigator. “We used this approach to overexpress certain genes that can increase protein levels and soybean disease resistance.”

Photo courtesy of Iowa soybean association/ Joseph L, Murphy

Saving time during the regulatory process is one of the key benefits of CRISPR technology. In November 2017, the USDA announced that some gene edited plants will be treated similarly to crops bred through conventional practices, rather than treated like transgenic (“GMO”) plants. Plants bred through the transgenic modification process are subject to a variety of regulations, which costs production companies a great deal of time and money. These costs are then passed to the farmers through the sale of the product. Eliminating some of these costs would make producing quality seed quicker and cheaper.

With her project, Li team wasn’t just interested in reducing the costs for farmers, they wanted to add value to the end product as well.

To read the full story, originally posted by the Iowa Soybean Association, click here.