The integration of genome editing tools into plant breeding has opened up new opportunities for crop improvement. Genome editing has been embraced in fundamental biological research, as well as for the improvement of desirable traits and plant breeding processes. The improved processes and products in plant breeding are expected to result in benefits that contribute to social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability, and in particular, improved sustainability of agricultural systems and food production. These benefits will ultimately contribute to many broader global goals, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and climate change strategies. The realization of these potential benefits depends largely on the regulatory environment. The range of possible outcomes of genome editing tools, ranging from mutagenesis to transgenesis, has challenged existing biotechnology regulatory regimes, with many countries examining and/or developing procedures to provide regulatory clarity.
With a focus on genome editing in agricultural applications that have the potential to contribute to sustainability goals, and in particular, the sustainability of agricultural systems, the aim of this Research Topic is to examine:
i. Developments in the genome editing tools that have been incorporated - or have the potential to be - in plant breeding, the research trends with these technologies in plant breeding, and the range of applications that are under investigation;
ii. How genome editing applications in plant breeding could beneficially contribute to broader social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability, and specifically, improving the sustainability of agricultural systems;
iii. The broader picture of regulatory developments globally, including policy developments, new regulatory procedures and/or reforms, as well as the positions of different actors in the lively societal debate, as these determine the ability to commercially deploy new agricultural crop varieties developed using genome editing tools and realize their potential benefits.
The scope of the Research Topic includes the following:
i. Developments in genome editing technologies and tools that are, or have the potential to be, incorporated into plant breeding;
ii. Developments in genome editing applications that enhance the efficiency of plant breeding processes, or that improve the understanding of plant traits, modulate the expression of endogenous traits, or introduce traits;
iii. How developments in the use of genome editing in plant breeding could contribute to broad social, economic, and environmental sustainability goals, and in particular, the sustainability of agricultural systems;
iv. Developments in applicable regulatory policy and legislative/administrative processes, and the regulatory status of genome editing in plants.
v. Social license and the public debate, including examination of views/positions of different stakeholders on the use of genome editing in crops.
For example (not exhaustive), the types of manuscripts could be original research reports (e.g. technology development, trait development), reviews of current status (e.g. technologies, trait development, regulatory environment), or opinion pieces (e.g. potential for genome editing to contribute to agricultural sustainability, the public debate).
We would like to acknowledge Dr. Ana Atanassova's
hard work and dedication to the development of this Research Topic as a Topic Coordinator, and thank her for her contribution as a valued member of the team.
Research Topic lead, and Guest Editor, Dr. Felicity Keiper is employed by the private multinational company BASF, which could be construed as a conflict of interest. BASF is a global research and development company with a diverse range of chemistry-based business segments, including an agricultural business that develops and commercializes biotech seed products.