J.R. Simplot Company, based in Idaho in the US, announced that it has acquired gene editing licensing rights that could one day be used to help farmers produce more crops and make grocery store offerings such as strawberries, potatoes and avocados stay fresher longer. J.R. Simplot Company on Monday announced the agreement with DowDuPont Inc. and the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, developers of the nascent gene editing technology. Simplot is the first agricultural company to receive such a license. “We think this is a transformative technology — it’s very powerful,” said Issi Rozen, chief business officer of the Broad Institute. “We’re delighted that Simplot is the first one to take advantage of the licensing.”
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, saving years in developing new varieties that are as safe as traditionally developed varieties, scientists say.
Simplot markets products in more than 40 countries, with major operations in the United States, China, Canada, Australia and Mexico. The company has already used other genetic techniques to adapt genes from wild and cultivated potatoes to produce commercially sold potatoes that resist bruising and late blight. “That’s part of our vision for Simplot — to be the knowledge leader for potatoes,” said Susan Collinge, vice-president of plant sciences at Simplot, where she supervises about 95 plant scientists. Read more