We are only two or three breeding cycles from 9 billion people and an altered climate. This future population will rightly expect to access a nutritious, balanced and affordable diet, and to expect that the animals and plants it comes from are produced sustainably. However, during the same period there will be changes to the global climate resulting in local weather patterns with more frequent extreme events. To ensure medium-term food security will be challenging; to ensure it over the longer-term without permanently degrading the natural resources of our planet will need step-changes in agricultural systems. Breeding new varieties of plants will be a necessity to meet these future needs, but achieving this through conventional methods is likely to prove problematic. The novel technique of genome editing, with its ability to turn off or improve existing genes, may well be the answer to this problem.

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