Research

CRISPR Creator: in 5 years we will all eat food with edited genes

In five years we will eat foodmodified by CRISPR, said a geneticist who had a hand in inventing this incredible technology for editing genes. While ethicists are discussing the use of CRISPR in the field of human health, the creator of this tool believes that it will find the best use in improving our food. “I think that in the next five years, the deepest thing we will see in terms of the impact of CRISPR on everyday life will occur in the agricultural segment,” says Jennifer Dudna, a geneticist at the University of California at Berkeley, who invented CRISPR during experiments with bacteria in 2012 year

How CRISPR will change what we eat

CRISPR has dozens of potential uses, fromtreatment of diseases such as sickle cell anemia, until certain hereditary forms of blindness are eliminated. Not so long ago, a large number of people far from science learned about this tool: when a Chinese scientist with his help edited the DNA of two twin girls. And he went to prison for it. Moreover, Dudna herself expressed, to put it mildly, disapprovingly, writing a column about this in Time.

There are also practical applications of CRISPR - which we will be able to see in grocery stores and on farm fields in ten years, Dudna said.

The attractiveness of CRISPR in the food segmentis simple: it is cheaper and simpler than traditional breeding methods, including those used for the production of genetically modified crops (they are GMOs) at the present time. CRISPR is much more accurate. Where traditional breeding techniques cut the culture genome with a blunt knife, CRISPR works with precision and precision of a scalpel.

Want mushrooms that are not brown? Corn, which gives more yield per square meter? These products already exist, although they have not yet reached the plates of consumers. What about strawberries with a longer shelf life or tomatoes that are better stored in a display case?

“I think all this will appear relatively quickly,” says Dudna.

Work on CRISPR has been going on for more than five years, but only recently have American regulators charted a confident path to bring CRISRP products to market.

Back in 2016, scientists from the State UniversityPennsylvania used this tool to make mushrooms not brown, but of a different color. Last spring, start-up Pairwise attracted $ 125 million from agricultural giant Monsanto to work on products modified with CRISPR and bring them to stores for decades. A month later, Stephen Jansson, head of the department of plant physiology at Umeå, Sweden, raised and ate the world's first CRISPR-cabbage (kale variety).

More recently, several Silicon Valley startups have begun experimenting with CRISPR to produce "in vitro meat."

Memphis Meats, a startup with the support of suchFamous personalities like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, who made real chicken sticks and prototypes of meatballs from animal cells (without killing a single animal), also use this tool. Like New Age Meats, another San Francisco startup that is trying to create real meat without slaughter.

Last spring, the Ministry of AgricultureThe US has passed a new crop regulation that exempts a number of crops modified by CRISPR from surveillance, which is usually accompanied by conventional GMOs. While these cultures are edited by CRISPR, they are not subject to additional regulatory burdens.

“With this approach, the USDA seeks to allowinnovation when there is no risk, ”says Agriculture Minister Sonny Perdue. Genome editing tools “will help farmers do what we want in the USDA: do everything right and feed everyone”.

Despite the mixed comments on this topicInitiatives, Dudna believes that CRISPR food can help dispel fear around GMOs and increase people's awareness of the role of science in agriculture. In the end, we need to feed billions of people.

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