10 Predictions for the Future of Gene Editing in Livestock

 

By Betsy Freese, Successful Farming

Agriculture.com - 11/29/2018

 

 If gene editing could create domestic pigs resistant to the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus, what value would that have to the swine industry worldwide?

 

With a devastating ASF outbreak in at least 10 provinces right now, China is probably too busy cleaning up farms to calculate. In Scotland, animal biotechnology professor Bruce Whitelaw, chair of genomics at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, is working on this very research. Details of the ASF studies are top secret, but Whitelaw will say that the research is ongoing and the ASF virus challenge on the pigs “will happen later this year.” The world is waiting.

 

In the U.S., it’s full speed ahead for gene editing in animal agriculture. In August, the biotech company Recombinetics, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, received $34 million in new funding to speed up research and development of its gene-editing products. The company’s main focus is to improve livestock health and welfare and to grow human organs in pigs.

 

Will gene editing be accepted by the public? “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can move this technology forward without reliving the GMO experience,” says John Johnson, chief operating officer for the National Pork Board. “There is a commitment by industries involved, as well as academics, to have transparent conversations about this. They are not trying to hide anything. The approach is very different than it was with GMOs 30 years ago. The transparency, dialogue, and conversation may lead us down a path where we can achieve consumer acceptance more readily and with more confidence.”

 

When asked what gene-editing research could produce down the road, University of California-Davis geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam and Mitch Abrahamsen, chief commercial and scientific officer for Recombinetics, gave these 10 predictions for the next decade.

 

1. More products will be on the market for farmers...

 

2. Animal welfare will be improved...

 

3. Livestock genetic quality and production could soar...

 

4. Traits will be stacked... 

 

5. Consumers will better understand that gene editing is distinct from GMO transgenic technology...

 

6. Regulatory agencies will continue to regulate the safety of gene-edited products...

 

7. International acceptance to gene editing will grow...

 

8. Farmers will continue to support the technology...

 

9. Government funding for research may be dicey...

 

10. Biomedicine solutions for human health will boom due to gene-edited livestock...

 

more, including table

https://www.agriculture.com/livestock/10-predictions-for-the-future-of-gene-editing-in-livestock