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  1. Lemke, Shawna L. PhD


Gene editing has the potential to become a transformative tool of plant breeding. Modern plant breeding programs are built on a rich history of crossing and selection of desirable varieties, made more efficient in recent decades with the application of genomics. The additional precision of gene editing techniques such as CRISPR is poised to enable better identification and advancement of beneficial traits such as disease resistance that appeals to farmers or enhanced flavor that appeals to consumers. It is important to recognize, however, that gene-edited crops are coming to market in the wake of debates surrounding genetically modified organisms. Although uses of gene editing under discussion do not typically center on transferring DNA into a plant from an unrelated species, the regulatory and societal lenses though which consumers and the scientific community view gene-edited plants will be a major influence on what traits reach farms and who is able to develop them. Health professionals have a frontline role in discussing food safety and nutrition with their clients and are encouraged to consult regulatory and scientific experts to stay abreast of introduction of new breeding techniques, as well as their use and safety.