Is a technological breakthrough likely soon that would increase GE crop yields?
The prospects for such a breakthrough are unclear. Improved methods of gene discovery are making many more genes available; identification of more of the genetic elements that control gene expression (called promoters) allows fine-tuning of transgene function that can limit side-effects; and new methods of monitoring gene, protein, and metabolic expression for the entire plant genome make looking for harmful side-effects increasingly feasible. The ability to engineer multiple genes simultaneously is also progressing. But none of this changes the fundamental challenge of the integrated nature of the genome that leads to side-effects (even if they can be somewhat reduced), the limitations of an incremental rather than systematic approach to yield, and the many other challenges of agriculture.