Date of Completion

Spring 4-30-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Ping Zhang

Honors Major

Biological Sciences


Biotechnology | Cell Biology | Food Biotechnology | Genetics | International and Community Nutrition | Laboratory and Basic Science Research | Molecular Biology | Plant Breeding and Genetics


The CRISPR-Cas system is a promising form of gene editing, especially for the agriculture industry. The ability to make single-nucleotide edits within a gene of interest, without the need to introduce foreign DNA, is a powerful tool for designing healthier and more efficient crops and food animals. This system provides opportunity for increased nutritional value, decreased food waste, and more economically and environmentally sustainable food production. Though this biotechnology is facing mechanistic limitations due to off-target effects and inefficient homology-directed repair, vast improvements have already been made to improve its efficacy. The CRISPR-Cas system is already the most advanced form of gene editing available. This paper also discusses the regulation of gene-edited agricultural products. While countries such as Australia recognize that gene editing cannot be distinguished from natural mutations and evolution, other entities such as the European Union treat these food products as genetically modified organisms, which subjects them to strict regulatory processes and testing. These conflicting policies will lead to novel effects on international trade. Though the CRISPR-Cas system is facing many mechanistic and regulatory challenges, and significant factors such as the public’s opinion still need to be considered, it still has great potential to improve the global agriculture industry and provide a more sustainable future.