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CRISPR promises to enhance the nutritional value of produce, increase crop yields, and extend freshness. It has increased the level of omega-3s in plants and aided the creation of non-browning apples, drought-resistant rice, and mushrooms that can withstand jostling during transportation. (In most markets, product labels identify such products as genetically modified.) In 2021, the first CRISPR-edited tomatoes went on sale in grocery stores in Japan. The big question now is whether CRISPR-edited crops will be labeled “genetically modified organisms” and become subjected to the same regulations. The USDA has said that some edited crops—some varieties of soybeans, corn, and potatoes—don’t fall under current regulations. In 2022, the agency approved the cultivation of a tomato engineered for enhanced nutritional value and color (it’s purple). This year, regulatory agencies will continue to review guidelines for CRISPR crops, which could have an impact on their production in years to come.

CRISPR crops

KEY TRENDS

CRISPR: Gene Editing at Scale