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Why We Need Innovation in Food and Agriculture

Jim Greenwood
February 20, 2019

Two of our most beloved breakfast beverages — coffee and orange juice — are under serious threat from disease, insects and climate change. But don’t be too alarmed. Scientists are looking at innovative new ways to protect and strengthen coffee plants and citrus trees.

With gene editing and the latest in plant breeding innovation, scientists can make stronger and more resilient crop varieties in years rather than decades. A world without orange trees or coffee plants has significant implications. At a personal level, many of us drink coffee or orange juice to help us get our day started off right. At an economic level, many people and communities around the world rely heavily on the harvesting of these crops. Gene editing is a technological breakthrough tool that can help us save these products and jobs.

Helping to protect a future with coffee and oranges highlights the possibilities and importance of agriculture innovation.  If we are going to benefit from these innovations, we need to have an open and inclusive dialogue about these exciting advancements. The potential that breakthroughs like gene editing have to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges — including  climate change, sustainability, hunger, and improving health and wellness – is immense.

Recently, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) jointly launched Innovature. This new platform will spark an important and thoughtful dialogue around innovation in food and agriculture and the tangible benefits it is bringing to our planet, health and food.

Currently, the focus is on gene editing in plants, animals and microbes, but over time, Innovature will become a forum to discuss and explore a wide range of new innovations in the food and agriculture space.

Through and other efforts, we aim to engage policymakers, food companies and the broader public in a dialogue around shared values. We want to share information, answer questions, hear diverse points of view, and highlight stories of scientific progress like those about coffee and oranges.

Through diverse partnerships, we can fully realize the solutions that innovations in food and agriculture, such as gene editing, can provide.

I encourage you to explore and engage in the conversation on Innovature’s social properties (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram). Together, we can explore and realize what’s possible when science and nature work together.