Genetic Engineering of Barley Promise, Reality, Reality, Reality and Prospects. Dr. Graham Scoles, PAg Department of Plant Sciences/CDC

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1 Genetic Engineering of Barley Promise, Reality, Reality, Reality and Prospects Dr. Graham Scoles, PAg Department of Plant Sciences/CDC

2 The Promise 1980 s (when it became clear that genetic engineering of plants was possible) All things were now possible (e.g. N fixing wheat) All crops would be affected Probably no longer needed plant breeders!! 1990 s (first genetically engineered crops began to come to market) First traits were input traits (benefited farmer) but other input traits and output traits would soon follow

3 Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri Biotech Applications

4 The Reality Area of GE crops is increasing now more so in developing countries But so far about 98% of the acreage is due to only soybean, corn, cotton and canola Globally, 70% of soybeans, 49% of cotton, 26% of corn and 21% of canola were GE (93%, 93% and 86% in USA in 2010) Minor acreages in the US (squash, papaya, alfalfa, sugar beet); China (tomato, poplar, petunia, papaya, peppers) and Australia and Colombia (carnation)

5 The Reality In the case of the four major crops, only two traits commercialized; herbicide tolerance (70% of GE acreage) and insect resistance (13%) or both (17%) The impact of GE on breeding was overstated (as has been the case with many other new breeding tools that have come along mutation, polyploidy, inter specific hybridization, doubled haploids)

6 The Reality GE must be part of a breeding program Cost of bringing to market (testing, regulatory and licensing of technology) significant in most countries Still consumer acceptance issues (Europe) No evidence of environmental/health concerns

7 The Reality Still no direct benefits to consumer (assuming that availability of food is not a benefit!!) Improved nutritional value?? In the developed world is not required and regulatory (labelling) issues to be dealt with. In the undeveloped world maybe golden rice could be part of the answer

8 The Reality Genetic engineering of barley Fertile plants first obtained in 1994 Since then the system has been improved through experimentation With enough research ($) genetic engineering could be routinely used in any barley breeding program (although Golden Promise has been used in nearly all studies to date)

9 Why has development lagged? Despite tremendous technological advances the discovery of genes with significant value has been slower than expected Most traits are not as simple as herbicide resistance and BT resistance either in terms of genetics or ability to measure (e.g. drought tolerance) Unlike herbicide and insect resistance, many traits would not necessarily be of economic value over large acreages and in every year (not such a viable economic proposition)

10 Why has development lagged? Conventional plant breeding continues to make advances (including using biotechnology in conventional programs) There is a significant lag time from gene discovery to commercialization to incorporate into the best germplasm to leap regulatory hurdles

11 Why has development lagged? Given costs of bringing to market (regulatory and licensing) in western world only large corporations can afford the investment required public institutions unable to finance Thus: Crop acreages must be very large uneconomical for minor crops such as barley Must be a mechanism for industry to be assured it can capture value of investments through seed sales

12 The Reality GE Barley Case for herbicide resistance not as strong as for canola and soybeans Also need to rotate herbicides Wild relatives would be a regulatory issue Disease/insect resistance Different issues in different parts of world probably no gene that could be utilized worldwide Plant breeding continues to be effective (markers) Solve one problem (with a magic gene) and another will take its place

13 The Reality GE Barley How could a company capture the value of its investments given high levels of farm saved seed? In other crops: Agreements Hybrids possible that trait could be incorporated into hybrids seed from hybrid would not breed true. In both cases, trait would need to be seen as having very significant value

14 Genetic engineering of barley to date Most recently, experimental work ( 30 publications) has concentrated on: Genes for enzymes involved in malting (thermostable β glucanases; thermostable α and β amylases) or grain hardness Genes that may play a role in disease resistance Genes that may play a role in aluminum, salinity, boron, drought tolerance and NUE How much would these be worth to the producer given what GE seed might cost?

15 Prospects GE is here to stay Acreage and number of crops/traits will continue to increase Consumer resistance will gradually be eroded If truly valuable then need a mechanism to capture value GE barley conservatively at least ten (fifteen/twenty) years away

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