ICABR 2018: Disruptive Innovations, Value Chains and Rural Development
June 12, 2018-June 15, 2018
The World Bank
Washington, DC, USA
Agriculture & Food Systems Institute Executive Director, Dr. Morven McLean, participated in the panel session titled “Country Perspectives on Gene Editing Regulation” at the International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR) Conference on Disruptive Innovations, Value Chains and Rural Development, organized in partnership with the World Bank. The multidisciplinary forum aimed to facilitate interactions between leading academics, World Bank staff, policymakers, government experts, civil society organizations, private-sector representatives, and representatives of other international organizations.
Country Perspectives on Gene Editing Regulation
The world of digitization is rapidly moving into the realm of agriculture in general and specifically into plant breeding. Precision and understanding of genetic changes have been enhanced thought the application of digital biology to plant breeding. Gene editing has exploded upon the agriculture sector in the past few years, challenging how these technologies will be regulated given the inability of regulators to know for certain what process was used to create the variety. This issue has created substantial challenges for regulatory systems that are process-based, as the uncertainty around regulation of gene editing has thrown these systems into gridlock.
It is important that the regulatory frameworks for gene editing technologies, such as for CRISPR, not be onerously strident, but rather build upon the knowledge and information gained through 25 years of regulating genetically modified crop varieties. For gene editing technologies to be successful contributors to improving food security in developing countries, it is essential that public research institutions be capable of developing and commercializing crop varieties without having to gain international commodity export market approvals, as public institutions lack the financial resources capable of this.
Multiple changes in the food system structure and agriculture raise new opportunities and challenges for the agricultural sector. In the developing world, these changes started in Asia and Latin America, and they are rapidly emerging in Africa. Urbanization and increased urban demand for food, fiber, and fuel present new market opportunities for farmers, entrepreneurs, and agribusiness in the developing world. Growing concerns over climate change, pollution and food safety are reflected in increasing consumer demand for environmental services, biofuel, and improved food quality from the agricultural sector. Failure to adapt to these changes may cause the rural sector and smallholder farmers to fall further behind.
Rapid advances in the biological sciences and information technology are leading to new technologies and services that facilitate responses to changing food systems and provide new opportunities for improving agricultural productivity, rural employment, and the efficiency of the agricultural value chain. However, they can also disrupt traditional value chains. Adapting to these changes requires a rapid transformation of all segments of the agricultural supply chain: farms (upstream), processing, storage and wholesaling (midstream), and retailing and delivery to consumers (downstream).
Learn more about the event on the ICABR website.