A mushroom that doesn’t brown. White flour with as much fiber as whole-wheat flour. Corn that can fend off northern corn leaf blight. Soybeans that can tolerate salty soils and drought.
These products and dozens more are quietly making their way from laboratories to fields, bypassing the regulatory hurdles that genetically modified (GM) plants must clear. They were produced with gene-editing techniques that allow scientists to snip genes out of a plant genome with speed and precision.
Gene editing could bring new crop traits to market far faster, with much less fanfare. In a world where large corporations dominate crop breeding, the relative ease and low cost of gene editing could allow small start-up companies to steam alongside the giant ships of agrichemical conglomerates.
Scientists and companies are racing toward the field with gene editing. But behind them lag governments barely beginning to grapple with a framework to regulate gene-edited crops — and American consumers with little understanding of the technology. Read more