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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Cibus Announced the Advancement of Three Key Non-GMO Canola Traits Using Patented Gene-Editing Techn

Biotechnology and precision agricultural gene editing company Cibus announced the achievement of significant milestones in the development of three key traits for canola.

Using its unique and patented technology known as the Rapid Trait Development System RTDS™, Cibus is developing new traits for plants, yeast, bacteria, and algae for the global agricultural sector. Through its platform Cibus is able to edit genes without integrating foreign genetic material, to accelerate the development of products that are genetically indistinguishable from those found in nature.

“Cibus’ precision gene editing technology is the only solution that can add and stack these traits as non-transgenic crops which is more than ten times faster than traditional transgenic processes used with GMOs. Farmers and consumers can be reassured that Cibus introduces new traits the same way nature does, just faster and more efficiently,” said Peter Beetham, Ph.D., CEO, Cibus.

With the goal of helping the global agricultural sector by providing more sustainable food sources, reducing the environmental impact of agricultural production, and reducing the impacts of climate change, Cibus has established crop platforms for canola, rice, flax, and potatoes, and is currently developing platforms for wheat, corn, soybeans, and peanuts.

The three new canola traits are edits of the plant’s genome to reduce pod shatter - the tendency for canola seed pods to open before harvest, reducing yields by as much as 40 percent;t to build resistance to Sclerotinia - a disease called white mold that can cut yields by as much as 50 percent; and to introduce an improved weed control system. The potential effect that these trait edits can have on our global food system cannot be overstated. Canola is one of the most valuable crops grown today, cultivated on 46 million acres across North American and Europe alone. It is the second largest source of protein meal in the world, the third largest source of vegetable oil, and is the foundation for a multibillion-dollar annual seed market. “Introducing these traits to a major, global crop like canola will benefit farmers, consumers and the environment,” said Beetham. “The ability to selectively add these traits without using a transgenic approach is an advancement we see leading a fourth green revolution in agriculture since the 19th century – enabling nature-equivalent crops to improve farming practices while considering environmental impact to meet food needs of a growing population.”

The trait to reduce pod shatter has successfully completed field trials this fall, and the remaining two traits to combat while mold and to control weeds has successfully undergone greenhouse testing, and are on deck for further field trials to be conducted in the spring and summer of 2020.

The products created by Cibus using its novel platform have been certified as non-GMO in the U.S., Canada, Argentina, and Chile, and are currently under the review process for approval in the EU, and Japan.

“Beyond canola, we currently are working on important traits to improve farming of rice, corn, wheat, soybean and potato to address major inefficiencies in crops due to disease, insects and weeds,” said Greg Gocal, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and executive vice president of Cibus.

“These traits can have significant environmental and health benefits. Producing fungus resistant plants, for instance, will reduce the need for fungicides and reduce the potential development of antibiotic resistant fungi, the rise of which is becoming a significant human health challenge.”

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