US companies unveil gene-edited strawberries, improving freshness and reducing waste

Two companies jointly announced Thursday that they had plans to start producing genetically edited strawberries in order to improve freshness and reduce waste.

The J.R. Simplot Company, a family-owned agriculture company, and Plant Services, a California-based plant reproduction company, issued a statement announcing the agricultural collaboration. By producing genetically edited strawberries, the companies hope to extend the freshness and shelf life of the food, as well as reduce waste.

"At Simplot, we're excited to participate in a project that may help growers achieve higher yields on less land, resulting in fewer pesticides and reduced water and labor needs, all while extending the quality of a consumer's favorite foods," Susan Collinge, the vice president for Simplot Plant Services, said in the statement.


The two companies plan to use technologies such as the CRISPR-Cas9, which can make changes to the strawberries' makeup. This tool will help to improve on the "characteristics" of the strawberries in order for the companies to refine the fruits.

Simplot was able to obtain the rights to the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technologies through a 2018 agreement with Corteva Agriscience and the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, according to the Washington Post. The CRISPR-Cas9 stands for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats."

As part of the collaboration, PSI will provide germplasm, seeds, or cells needed for reproduction, along with necessary agricultural advice as needed, according to the statement.

"We are highly motivated to build on our learnings with the J.R. Simplot Company and fully expect to make a profound impact on the strawberry industry by offering better varieties with qualities that both growers and consumers will celebrate," Steve Nelson, the president and CEO of PSI, said in the statement.

About $2.2 billion worth of strawberries were grown in the United States during 2020, the majority of which was grown in California, according to data from the Department of Agriculture.

Simplot was given the OK by the Department of Agriculture in 2014 to start producing genetically engineered potatoes back in 2014, according to the New York Times.


The Food and Drug Administration announced in April 2019 that it would be lifting a ban against the genetically modified AquAdvantage Salmon, allowing for the product to be imported to the United States.

The Washington Examiner reached out to the J.R. Simplot Company and to the Department of Agriculture for a statement but did not receive a response.

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