By precisely modifying the genetic makeup of plants, gene editing technologies have emerged as a revolutionary tool in agriculture, offering immense potential that enables scientists to enhance desirable traits, improve crop yields, and develop resistance against diseases and pests. The benefits of gene editing in agriculture are significant. It enables the development of disease-resistant crops, reducing reliance on harmful pesticides and minimizing crop losses. Moreover, nutritional content can also be enhanced, as seen in soybeans with healthier oils and rice with reduced arsenic levels. Additionally, the development of drought-resistant and high-yield crops using gene editing ensures productivity under adverse environmental situations and promotes sustainable farming practices.
To fully harness the potential of gene editing in agriculture, Bangladesh must focus on capacity development, such as high-end laboratories and trained manpower. Building scientific expertise and knowledge-sharing platforms will enable local scientists to develop genetically modified crops tailored to Bangladesh's agricultural landscape. Collaboration with international research institutions and involvement in worldwide scientific networks are also essential. However, ensuring accessibility and affordability of gene editing technologies for the private sector in Bangladesh requires a comprehensive approach with a robust regulatory framework that balances safety considerations with innovation promotion. Clear guidelines for developing, testing, and commercializing genetically modified crops are essential. Financial incentives like grants and tax benefits, and public-private partnerships encourage private sector involvement, address ethical concerns, ensure transparency, and build public trust. Engaging stakeholders through dialogue addresses biodiversity, food safety, and equitable access to gene-edited crops.
Embracing gene editing technologies and providing policy support will unlock the potential of sustainable agriculture in Bangladesh. With investments in capacity development and a collaborative approach involving the private sector, Bangladesh can become a leader in agricultural innovation, paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient future.
Dr. F H Ansarey
ACI Agribusinesses Division