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Gene editing, led by the discovery of CRISPR-Cas, promises widespread, accelerated, and targeted discoveries. Cas represents the molecular scissors that do the cutting.) When GMO crops first came into widespread use in agriculture in the 1990s, the initial information from companies using the technology was vague, assuming the public would both understand and accept the technology.
Areas of the genome linked to specific traits can now be precisely edited. Gene editing could eventually provide a catalog of options for farmers to order exactly what they need. Today, those companies realize they need strategic plans to educate both farmers and consumers about the benefits of this technology.
For agriculture, the company creates desirable animal health and productivity traits to sell to producers for use in breeding programs.
The discoveries include the world’s first gene-edited polled cows, heat-tolerant cattle, foot-and-mouth disease resistance, genetic castration, meat quality, and more.
“You change a single gene that allows the cow to thermoregulate better in heat.
It is precision breeding.” You engineer the tool for specific situations, he explains.
The effect is not exactly the same as CRISPR, but it is similar.
“You can bring any trait into your favorite livestock breed without doing cross breeding.Cibus already has a crop on the market, a herbicide-tolerant canola.Cibus’s core proprietary technology is the Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS).“You put your scissors at the spot responsible for that trait, knock it out (or put in instructions for a one-base deletion), the repair happens, and now you’ve introduced a Senegal gene into an Angus.” Farmers are astute and will accept the technology, predicts Sonstegard. We are selecting and using genetics already in the species.It’s different than GMO, which pulls genes from one species into another.
“This could have a significant impact on animal welfare,” says Prather. “There are physiological and emotional costs of these diseases, as well as economic, when they hit family farms,” he explains. Now, everybody runs around with smartphones without giving them a second thought.” Using genetically engineered animal organs to save lives in humans (xenotransplantation) is the Holy Grail.