Syngenta Unlocks CRISPR Tech for Global Agri-Science Boost

Syngenta Group, a global leader in agricultural technology, has announced a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fostering innovation and promoting sustainability in agriculture. The company will now provide rights to selected genome-editing and breeding technologies for academic research worldwide. This move is part of Syngenta’s broader commitment to drive advancements in agricultural science and ensure a more sustainable future for farming.

The rights are accessible through Syngenta’s innovation collaboration platform, Shoots by Syngenta, which was launched in 2023. This platform is designed to create partnerships to address some of the most complex challenges in food and agriculture. It brings together the external innovation ecosystem, including academics, research institutes, and other entities, with Syngenta’s global network of more than 6,000 scientists. The aim is to develop solutions that mitigate climate change, enhance biodiversity, and better serve both smallholder and large-scale farmers.

Among the technologies being made available are optimized CRISPR-Cas12a and gene-editing enabled breeding tools. CRISPR-Cas12a is a powerful genome-editing technology that allows scientists to make precise changes to the DNA of plants, enabling the development of improved crops more quickly and efficiently than traditional breeding methods. “The power of CRISPR technology has incredible potential to enable crop innovation to deliver value to farmers,” says Gusui Wu, Head of Global Seeds Research at Syngenta. “The increased use of CRISPR in agriculture can transform the way we approach plant breeding, accelerating the discovery and deployment of innovations that provide growers more productive and resilient crops.”

Syngenta’s scientists have been at the forefront of improving CRISPR-Cas genome editing technologies. They have engineered CRISPR Cas12a to increase its efficiency and utility, making it a significantly optimized tool for crop improvement. This opens up new possibilities for academic institutions to explore and develop innovative solutions that can improve crop yields, enhance resistance to pests and diseases, and adapt to changing climate conditions.

The initiative is built on Syngenta’s long-standing tradition of sharing technology with public and private entities. For instance, Syngenta’s vegetable licensing platform allows breeding companies and academic institutes to access and breed with Syngenta germplasm. This new initiative extends that collaborative spirit by providing straightforward, quick, and easy access to its proprietary genome-editing technologies for academic and non-profit research use.

Stuart Harrison, Head of Global Seeds R&D Partnerships at Syngenta, emphasizes the importance of collaboration in driving innovation. “At Syngenta, we truly believe that collaboration accelerates innovation. This new initiative has tremendous potential to not only result in exciting technology innovations, but to also drive critical crop solutions that will support farmers worldwide.”

The impact of this initiative is already being felt in the academic community. Adrian Percy, Executive Director of the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative, states: “By accessing these innovative technologies from Syngenta, the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative and North Carolina State University can more broadly accelerate its capabilities in genome editing. We are excited about the application of these technologies in our research programs as they will certainly enable improvement to a variety of crops to the benefit of the grower community.”

Licensing the technologies has been made simple and streamlined, with additional information available through an online catalogue on the Shoots by Syngenta website. This ease of access is expected to encourage widespread adoption and utilization of the technologies, further accelerating the pace of agricultural innovation.

Syngenta’s commitment to innovation and sustainability will be showcased at this year’s World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in London, where the company is a Platinum Partner. This event provides an opportunity for stakeholders to connect directly with Syngenta’s team and explore the potential of these groundbreaking technologies.

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