USAID’s Samantha Power promotes gene editing in visit to Corteva

The U.S. government is supporting gene editing in seeds as a way to help fight hunger, Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), told the World Food Prize dialogue on innovation and food security in Iowa last week.

While in the state, Power also paid a visit to Corteva—a BIO member producing cutting-edge seeds that can help address world hunger with more resilient crops—and made a short video that praised their work.

In her address to the World Food Prize gathering, Power noted that at least 828 million people will go to bed hungry each night, and over 40 million “face emergency levels of hunger,” which means people die of starvation.

“In a world where climate change is leading to ever more disastrous shocks, with so many of the harshest impacts falling on poor farmers, how do we break the cycle of lurching from food crisis to food crisis?” Power asked. “How can we harness the industry and know-how, and just stubborn determination of farmers around the world, as well as the work of the tremendous innovators in this room, those tuning in and all around the world, to feed the planet, and to feed the planet without accelerating climate change even further.”

Part of the answer will come from gene editing, Power said.

USAID support for gene-edited crops

Power unveiled new USAID programs to increase productivity and food production, including financing for advancing seed breeding techniques like CRISPR to “tailor” seeds to “local soils, salinity, and climate” in partner nations.

“USAID will invest nearly $3.8 million to support the ISAAA AfriCenter, Kenyatta University, and Addis Ababa University to use CRISPR to develop new ‘Striga-smart’ varieties of sorghum. These new varieties will accelerate breeding efforts and protect farmers from devastating weed infestations that still plague many African farmers today while minimizing the need for herbicides or the laborious hand weeding so often done by women,” Power announced during her speech.

Power urged government partners to collaborate with nonprofits and private companies, invest in domestic research and development, and create laws and regulations that support the growth of innovative, safe agricultural practices.

“We know that investing in sustainable agricultural growth isn’t just a more sustainable way to fight hunger and poverty; it’s cheaper, too,” Power said. “If we can get these seeds out to developing countries, in places that are hospitable to the very specific seeds that are made, that can make a world of difference in terms of agricultural productivity,” she said.

Inspecting Corteva’s corn

During her visit to Iowa, Power also visited BIO member Corteva, which is “constantly innovating to think through how can we make seeds more drought resistant, heat resistant, even wind resistant, pest resistant,” she said in a video posted on Twitter.

Power had the opportunity to get a closer look at the full cycle of seed development for Corteva’s drought-resistant corn.

With programs targeting farms and farmers, Corteva is promoting resilience in the agricultural sector. Advanced seed breeding techniques used by the business allow crops to thrive in the face of harsh circumstances, including pests, disease, and drought, that threaten the global food supply.

Technology and innovation have the potential to increase agriculture’s sustainability, and Corteva is playing its part as an agricultural pioneer, developing solutions to strengthen food systems’ resilience, intelligence, and sustainability.

About The Author

Scroll to Top