Dr R S Paroda chairs an expert panel on sustainable agriculture, hosted by TIGS India

Experts share their thoughts on gene editing and its implications on the future of agriculture in India

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New Delhi: The Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS), India hosted an expert panel on “Gene Editing for Agriculture, Society and Sustainable Development: Prospects and Perspectives” under their “Science Serving Society” knowledge initiative, where eminent panelists gathered to discuss how science and technology can help in ensuring food security in India.
“With all the new research we are seeing with gene editing in agriculture, we feel that it is important to create avenues for, and to encourage discussion on, the technology and how it can contribute towards ensuring food security. We are very grateful to all the experts who contributed to the discussion today,” said Professor Suresh Subramani, Global Director at TIGS India.
The opening remarks by Padma Bhushan Dr. R.S. Paroda, Former DG ICAR and Former Secretary DARE and Chairman, Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences, focused on the history of plant breeding technologies and their implications on global agriculture. He described the new gene-editing technology as a disruptive innovation in agriculture.
Dr. V. Chinnusamy, Head, Division of Plant Physiology, ICAR-IARI, then talked about the technical aspects of gene editing and the application of the technology in agriculture, its status in India, and initiatives taken by entities like ICAR and DBT India. Thereafter, Dr. Donald J. Mackenzie, Executive Director, Institute for International Crop Improvement, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, discussed the need for an enabling environment to use gene editing, particularly in the context of streamlining regulatory requirements. He also spoke about recent developments with respect to gene editing regulations in various countries.
A panel discussion chaired by Dr. R.S. Paroda followed. Panelists like Dr. Deepak Pental, CSIR – Distinguished Scientist and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Delhi; Dr. K.V. Prabhu, Chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority; Dr. Subhra Chakraborty, Director, National Institute of Plant Genome Research; Dr NK Singh, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Dr. Amitabh Mohanty, Trait Discovery Ops Leader, Corteva Agrisciences, gave their thoughts on the need to enhance communication and outreach about gene editing for agriculture, ensure clarity in policy issues, create an enabling environment including farmers and other stakeholders and promote collaborations in this space.