Winter Insights Summit Discusses Potential of Genome Editing


Winter Insights Summit Discusses Potential of Genome Editing
Illinois Soybean Association event reviews game-changing technology in food and agriculture

CHICAGO, ILL. – December 19, 2018 – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) hosted on Dec. 10 more than 20 attendees for a thought-provoking discussion among industry leaders around gene editing technology and the changes happening throughout food and agriculture. The summit explored how the technology works, the global regulatory environment, consumer perceptions and leading industry segments introducing the new technology.

“As an organization, we are continually looking to see what the next breakthrough technology, issue or trend is and how it will impact our industry and Illinois farmers,” says Lynn Rohrscheib, ISA chairwoman and soybean farmer from Fairmount, Illinois. “We see a lot of promise around gene editing technology for the future of agriculture. The Insights Summit really reflected that.”

The event began with René Quadt, head of seeds research project and program management at Syngenta Crop Protection LLC, reviewing the global landscape of food production.

“The world population increases by 200,000 people each day,” says Quadt. “We must do more with less and unlock all the plant potential we can.”

Quadt detailed the science of genome editing and the differences between it, conventional breeding and genetic modification. “The main differences lie in how the plant breeding process takes place and the time it takes for research and development,” he says. “Ultimately, gene editing allows product delivery into farmer hands faster and accelerates the rate of yield gain.”

Key topics considered were regulatory acceptance and consumer perceptions.

“Many discussions still need to take place as products go through the regulatory system,” says Emily Metz, Genus PIC director of new product marketing. “The most important thing is that this technology is used in an appropriate way. Our company developed a mission statement around our use of gene editing to underscore our commitment to responsible and positive use of this technology.”

Metz also commented on current consumer perceptions, sharing that, “Consumers are largely undecided about their reaction to this technology aiding in food production but are willing to learn. We need to understand their concerns and engage in an open, two-way conversation.”

“Events like this are very important to address challenging issues and explore how they will impact Illinois soybean producers and the betterment of our industry,” says Jayma Appleby, ISA’s director of industry relations. “Gene editing has great potential to aid food production and farmer efficiency, as well as address increasing global demand for protein. The more we understand the role and impacts of this technology, the better prepared we are to play a role.”

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C., through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website


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Rachel Peabody

Maggie Smith