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China Daily / 2023-07 / 29 / Page004

Genome-edited crops more resilient to climate change

By ROBERT PAARLBERG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-29 00:00

The ongoing scorching summer is pushing up global food prices, once again putting food security in the spotlight. And CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) crops could be part of the needed response, assuming governments allow them to be grown.

In the 1990s, when a novel transgenic method for improving crops was commercially introduced, governments in Europe placed tight restrictions on these "genetically modified organism (GMO)" crops, requiring them to be separately approved, segregated from conventional crops, separately labeled, and traced through the marketplace with audit records kept for five years. These burdensome regulations were copied at least in part by many other governments, driving GMO foods out of most farm fields and markets, not just in the European Union but around the world as well. As of 2019, 84 percent of all GMO crop acres were in just four western hemisphere countries (the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Canada), and 97.2 percent of the total acres were used to grow just four crops used mostly as animal feed or for industrial purposes: soybean, yellow corn, cotton and canola.

GMO staple food crops such as rice, wheat and potato have scarcely been grown anywhere.

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