Genetic engineering is the topic of many science fiction movies. It provides a promise for a better future. An Idaho based multinational company is trying to deliver on that promise. They have acquired gene editing licence rights.
Their research may help farmers to produce more crops. These crops also stay fresh for longer periods of time. This includes grocery store staples such as potatoes, strawberry and avocados.
JR Simplot Company on Monday announced the agreement with DowDuPont Inc. and the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. They are the first agricultural company to receive such a licence.
“We think this is a transformative technology — it’s very powerful,” said Issi Rozen, the chief business officer of the Broad Institute. “We’re delighted that Simplot is the first one to take advantage of the licensing.”
the companies officials refused to say how much the company paid for the rights. This was to prevent the unethical use of this technology.
The technology allows scientists to make precise changes to the genome of living organisms and has wide-ranging applications for improving plant food production and quality.
“The issues are about getting the right kind of food produced in the right kind of way,” said Neal Gutterson, chief technology officer at Corteva Agriscience, DowDuPont’s agriculture division. “It’s important to be able to produce enough food for the nine to 10 billion people who will be on the planet in 30 years.”
The gene editing technology is called CRISPR-Cas9, the first part an acronym for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” The technology speeds up the traditional process of breeding generation after generation of plants to get a certain desirable trait, saving years in developing new varieties that are as safe as traditionally developed varieties, scientists say.