b"Investing in CRISPR for Crops of the Future Has CRISPR fully delivered on its potential? What should we expect ahead? Syngentas Gusui Wu tackled these questions at World Agri-Tech in San Francisco.Madeleine BaergTHE 2024 WORLD AGRI-TECHwe expect ahead? Syngentas Gusui Wu,Syngenta scientist Mary-Dell Chilton, yet Innovation Summit in San Franciscohead of Seeds Research at Syngenta,the first transgenic trait wasnt commer-in March, brought together more thantackled those questions in his presenta- cialized until 1996. Why such a delay? The 2,500 delegates from across the agricul- tion.regulatory process is certainly part of the ture value chain and from more than fourIn the past decade, depending onstory, but not all of it. The major reason dozen countries. The two-day Summithow you do your calculation, somewhereit took more than 10 years is because focused on commercializing solutionsbetween $4- $6 billion were invested inthe plant transformation technique, as for climate-resilient agriculture and wasstart-ups that are applying CRISPR inrevolutionary as it was, was not in itself jam-packed with food for thought. Notagriculture. About the same amount ofsufficient to build a transgenic trait. surprisingly, one of the major topics thatdollars or higher were invested by seedIn order to successfully build a trans-came up throughout the Summit wascompanies big and small to do genegenic trade, you need plant transforma-CRISPR. editing in crops. Significant investmenttion for sure, but a number of associated Over the past 10 years, there has beenor funding has happened in the publicapplication technology were needed (as incredible progress in CRISPR thanks tosector in plant gene editing research. Aswell), Wu said.enormous private and public investment.of January there were 53 USDA exemp- In the case of transgenic traits, the Yet, has the technology yet fully deliv- tions of gene edited traits in about 17associated technologies included trait ered on its potential? And what shouldcrops, he said. gene engineering, plant expression tools, Yet, he pointed out, at-scale deliveryand trait introgression technologies to of CRISPR-influenced products hasnt yetintroduce traits into elite varieties of occurred. These may be indicators thathybrids.investor enthusiasm is waning.The delay in CRISPRs uptake and It's probably fair to say we have notcommercial application is similar. seen the kind of big impact, large-scaleCRISPR technology itself is not new commercialization of gene edited prod- breeding technology. Let's be clear about ucts in the market. And the venture fund- that. It's simply a tool that enables a lot of ing has plateaued in the last few yearsbreeding technologies that can happen, in gene editing in ag, he said. Wu said.Do we still believe CRISPRAlready, traits can be developed with is a disruptive, revolution- gene editing today if those edits are ary technology thatsimple. For example, Syngenta is currently can bring aboutworking on several key traits, including new breeding tech- extended shelf-life and disease resistance nologies? Do we still believein tomato, as well as Asian Soybean Rust CRISPR is a good investmentresistance. opportunity that can make the crop ofWe see in the pipeline a lot of new the future happen?traits that are being developed by vari-Absolutely, said Wu. The issue isous entities, public and private. There is a simply one of timing.democratization of the technology, which To understand todays reality for geneis different than (how) GM technology editing technology and use, look at thehappened in the last couple of decades, last disruptive, revolutionary technologywhich is a good thing, Wu said.in plant breeding: transgenic technol- The next stage for CRISPR may be its ogy for genetically modified traits. Thatmost exciting and an opportunity to make technology was first published in 1983 byits biggest impact on the market.SW18/ SEEDWORLD.COMINTERNATIONAL EDITION 2024"