High adoption of gene-edited crop seeds expected in the next five to ten years

It is expected that the adoption rate for GE seeds will surpass 50% within five to ten years, according to a recent Rabobank research.

May 9, 2023

According to a recent Rabobank report, expectations for gene editing (GE) crops are high, and significant growth in their adoption is projected in the years ahead.

“GE technology has the potential to solve issues across the food supply chain for all stakeholders. It can increase crop productivity without expanding farmland area, reduce food waste, reduce harmful substances in food, and reduce pesticide use, among other things,” explains Chia-Kai Kang, farm inputs analyst at Rabobank.

Although the exact timeline for the adoption of GE seeds is hard to estimate, it is expected that adoption rates will surpass 50% within five to ten years. According to Kang, there are at least five factors that will determine if a GE crop can achieve a high adoption rate: 1) product performance, such as quality, yield, and consistency in performance; 2) possible long-term risks, such as allergic and toxic reactions; 3) disruption to trade flows due to export bans on GE crops; 4) the marketing power, selling strategy, and distribution network of the input company; and 5) access to technology.

Applications range across a variety of crops and address several issues

Arable crops are getting most of the attention, followed by plant, not for human consumption, vegetables, fruits, and microorganisms. “GE traits can benefit the entire food supply chain, directly impacting farmers and farm input companies, but also the grain and oilseed industry and consumers,” highlights Kang.

The US has been the frontrunner in terms of GE applications, as it was with genetically modified organisms (GMO). According to the USDA, 169 applications for GE products were submitted in the US from 2011 to 2020. These applications covered plants that are for human consumption, feed, industrial uses, and some microorganisms for industry. Some of these applications are expected to be commercialized soon.

GE crops face less controversy than GMOs

Unlike GMOs, which have been in the market for several decades, GE is a relatively new technology that developed less than ten years ago. The development of GE brings new technology to the table that involves only editing the existing genes of the plant. This solves one of the major criticisms of GMOs and brings fewer ethical concerns, as well as fewer regulatory constraints in some countries.