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Food Biotechnology: Sculpting Genes with Genetic Engineering

Publication Date Jan 1, 2019

Abstract

Almost 200 years ago, Mary Shelley wrote her iconic book about Frankenstein’s monster, highlighting the unforeseen risks of new scientific and technological advances. This chapter describes the exciting advances that have been made in biotechnology that now allow us to precisely sculpt the genes of the plants, animals, and microbes we rely on to produce our foods. These genetic tools have the potential to revolutionize our food supply, enabling us to increase yields, enhance resilience, reduce waste, decrease pollution, and improve the nutritional profile of our foods. The principles behind the exciting new gene editing tool known as CRISPR are discussed. In addition, the way that this tool is being used by agricultural scientists to revolutionize our food supply by making precise edits in the genetic codes of living creatures are highlighted. CRISPR and other genetic tools will be critical for addressing global food challenges related to the growing global population and climate change. However, there are risks associated with developing and employing these powerful new biotechnologies that have to be recognized and discussed by all stakeholders, including consumers, scientists, industry, and governments. This chapter therefore ends in a discussion of the potential safety concerns and ethical issues associated with using genetic engineering, as well as its benefits.

Concepts

Gene Editing Tool Genetic Tools Iconic Book Food Supply Genetic Engineering Food Biotechnology CRISPR Tools Technological Advances Climate Change Global Climate Change

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