Denmark: Carlsberg invents breakthrough non-GMO barley breeding method

Scientists at the Carlsberg Research Laboratory have invented a new breakthrough breeding method that enables ultrafast improvement of new varieties of barley but also any other types of plants and microbes without the use of genetical modification (GM).

FIND-IT(Fast Identification of Nucleotide variants by droplet DigITal PCR)accelerates the development process from laboratory to field evaluation and product development and has great potential for sustainable agriculture even outside the world of brewing.

The FIND-IT technology is particularly innovative because it does not make use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In addition, it works across all plant species and can even be used to isolate genetic variants from yeasts, other fungi and bacteria, which are also important in food and drink production.

In contrast to other technologies like transgenesis or CRISPR-Cas9, FIND-IT does not insert, alters or replace genes and is therefore not considered to produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

GMOs have been subject to ongoing public concerns related to food safety, regulation, labelling, environmental impact, research methods, and the fact that some GM seeds, along with all new plant varieties, are subject to plant breeders' rights owned by corporations. Therefore GMOs are not widely used in the brewing industry.

The majority of GM crops have been modified to be resistant to selected herbicides, usually a glyphosate or glufosinate based one. Gene flow between GM crops and compatible plants, along with increased use of broad-spectrum herbicides, can increase the risk of herbicide resistant weed populations.

According to Carlsberg, this can be avoided using Carlsberg’s new FIND-IT technology, while on the other hand “meeting the food requirements for our expanding global population, in the face of changing climatic conditions.”

Prof. Birgitte Skadhauge, Vice President of the Carlsberg Research Laboratory, and her team of scientists have published the invention in the latest issue of Science Advances.

“It’s a known fact that we need crops in the future which for example have a better quality and higher tolerance for heat and drought stress. With our technology, we are able to screen extremely large numbers of crop individuals in a very short time and find a specific variant, that tolerates heat or drought better. Afterwards the isolated variant can be bred into new improved varieties which are able to grow across the world” says Prof. Birgitte Skadhauge.

“We are very proud that the Carlsberg Research Laboratory continues to build on its long scientific reputation with the invention of the FIND-IT methodology, which we believe will prove to be a groundbreaking technology that will empower researchers worldwide to address global challenges,” says Prof. Søren-Peter Olesen, Chairman of the Carlsberg Research Laboratory Supervisory Board.

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