Innovative plant breeding could deliver crop revolution

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

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Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

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National Institute of Plant Genome Research, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi, India.

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National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, India.

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As researchers who recognize that plant science underpins food security, we applaud the development of genetic strategies that could sustainably improve crop yields (J. Bailey-Serres et al. Nature 575, 109–118; 2019). However, the socio-economic implications of such technologies could prevent farmers and consumers from adopting them, particularly in developing countries hit hardest by climate change.

Commercial interests typically drive the implementation of crop technologies. Advances in crop science are more about integrating technology with global economic realities, which can include poverty, poor governance, lack of market access and inefficient supply chains (A. A. Adenle et al. Nature Biotechnol. 36, 137–139; 2018).

Taking such limitations into account, along with public unease about genetic modification and the use of the gene-editing tool CRISPR in food production (J. L. Lusk et al. Food Pol. 78, 81–90; 2018), we consider that a broader range of technologies should be explored in parallel. Innovative approaches to plant breeding strategies, for example, could deliver a new green revolution.

Nature 577, 622 (2020)

Updates & Corrections

  • Correction 07 February 2020: An earlier version of this Correspondence gave the wrong affiliation for Kapuganti Jagadis Gupta.

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