Agriculture is often cited as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change. With a global population slated to reach ten billion by 2050, we are faced with the enormous challenge of growing more food that will sustain and nourish our population, while at the same time lessening the negative environmental impacts of agriculture—two challenges often at odds. However, technological innovations like gene editing can also play a role in helping us tackle these epic challenges in tandem.
The Pairwise-Bayer Crop Science collaboration is using innovative approaches to gene editing tools to improve row crop agriculture, in addition to the work that Pairwise is leading in fruits and vegetables. The 2022 growing season was unlike any other for the Pairwise-Bayer Crop Science partnership as we trialed a record number of corn and soy entries that stand to offer a sustainability advantage.
“We’re able to apply the tools of gene editing to bring in new traits that offer growers the ability to grow more with less,” said Ryan Rapp, Chief Technology Officer at Pairwise. “If we can produce more kernels on an ear of corn or protect more crops from disease, that means more output using fewer resources like land and water.”
“We are committed to doing our part to help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals by 2030,” said Rick Lawrence, Head of Gene Editing, Yield, Disease, and Quality Research at Bayer Crop Science. “Our growers are some of the most engaged stewards of the land. They want to do the right thing, and gene editing offers us more tools to provide them so they can help meet the needs of people and the planet.”
The team planted a record number of gene edited trials this growing season—a number never before seen in the industry. The speed and efficiency of the Pairwise editing platform means both farmers and consumers could see the benefits of these new varieties within this decade.
“It’s a great partnership,” Rapp. “We’re able to apply our leading gene editing platform to extensive row crop germplasm to achieve a portfolio of novel sustainability traits.”
“It’s a win-win-win,” said Lawrence. “A win for the partners and a win for global agriculture. The pressures that climate change and other geopolitical issues will have on global agriculture are clear, and the work that Pairwise and Bayer are undertaking today will directly benefit our future food systems.”