Jennifer Doudna, one of the scientists behind CRISPR gene editing, says the technology could be used to tackle climate change, among other major issues facing humanity. At the moment, the technology is widely being tried by researchers in clinical studies.
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CRISPR gene editing technology allows the editing of genomes of living organisms. Through modification, researchers can come up with genes that are more adaptable to the environment and also ones that can support the ecosystem as it is.
Doudna spoke in an interview with the MIT Technology Review. She said that the technology could be used to enhance the capacity of microbial organisms in the soil or water “for carbon capture.”
“There’s been a lot of focus on clinical medical uses of CRISPR,” she told MIT Tech as reported by Futurism. “However, I suspect that over the next decade, when we think about global impact and impact on daily lives, that’s where the uses in agriculture and even to address climate change will potentially have a much broader impact.”
There have been previous attempts to use CRISPR technology to influence the climate. The Salk Institute for Biological Studies’ Harnessing Plants Initiative is currently working on amplifying plants’ root systems and enhancing their protective shell responsible for storing carbon dioxide.
Similarly, scientists at the University of California Berkeley are trying to modify rice to be more drought-resistant. However, the research is still in its early stages.
Doudna and her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier received the Nobel prize in 2020 for their discovery. Additionally, CRISPR has already proven to be an important technology in the medical world. Researchers are also excited about its potential effects on the global food chain among other areas of application.
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