New Wave?: Advance in Biotechnology Could Help Usher in Second and Third Wave Bioengineered CropsMay 11, 2009
By Ricardo Carvajal –
In two studies recently published in Nature (see here and here) scientists report success applying a novel technique to more precisely insert genes conferring herbicide resistance into corn and tobacco. In addition to enabling greater precision, the technique results in stable integration of the transferred gene into the host genome, such that the genetic change is transmitted to subsequent generations. Both of these features should make it easier to navigate through FDA's consultation procedures for bioengineered foods. The technique also facilitates gene stacking, which allows for the combination of two or more desired traits. This feature could help usher in bioengineered crops that go beyond offering improved agronomic characteristics to provide improved nutritional or other consumer benefits (so-called second wave crops) or perhaps facilitate more efficient production of pharmaceutical or chemical compounds (so-called third wave crops). You can read more about the researchers’ expectations for the new technology here.