Today an article in Nature Biotechnology, authored by an expert panel from academia, government, industry, and non-profit research, provides guidance on the steps required for safe deployment of genetically modified (GM) sorghum. The panel considered nutritionally enhanced GM sorghum developed for cultivation in Africa, where there is a potential for gene flow to wild species (see Hokanson et al., “Biofortified sorghum in Africa: using problem formulation to inform risk assessment”). They advocate a science based process to measure potential risks and benefits, promoting safety while minimizing delays in releasing improved crops. This process includes experiments that measure the potential for benefit and harm and requires only the data necessary for sound regulatory decisions.
“We’re pleased to see these experts address improvements to sorghum that could be made with biotechnology, proposing a path forward for sound, science based decision making in assessing the risks and benefits,” said David Jessen, Chief Technology Officer at Chromatin, Inc.
Sorghum is the world’s 5th most cultivated cereal crop and can be grown on 80% of the world’s agricultural land. It requires fewer nutrient inputs and far less water than many other crops. Along with the availability of a global network for sorghum seed production, sales and distribution, the ability of this crop to grow on marginal land that is not currently used for food production has moved sorghum to the forefront as a biomass feedstock. “With appropriate measures for containment and stewardship, GM sorghum can be safely deployed as a more nutritional food product and as a renewable source of biomass,” said Jessen.
“Chromatin is committed to enhancing sorghum through the safe and effective application of biotechnology,” said Daphne Preuss, CEO of Chromatin, Inc. “As water resources become more limited, and as growing populations require more productivity from low-quality land, sorghum is a crop that is poised to meet the demands of the future.”
Source: Chromatin, Inc.