In a move aimed at securing a place in the rapidly-evolving food technology scene, agricultural giant Monsanto has invested $125 million in a fresh gene-editing startup called Pairwise.
The alliance could tee-up Monsanto, long known for its controversial dealings with farmers and its role in popularizing GMOs, to introduce some of the first produce made using the blockbuster gene-editing tool CRISPR. Sweeter strawberries with a longer shelf-life could be among the earliest offerings.
The tool allows scientists to accurately target specific problem areas within the genome of a living thing, opening up the potential to tweak the DNA of everything from row crops like corn and soy to produce like apples and asparagus in order to make the produce taste sweeter, last longer on the shelf, and even tolerate drought or flooding.
Monsanto and Pairwise aim to get some of the first fruits and vegetables made with CRISPR on grocery store shelves within the next five to 10 years, Tom Adams, who previously served as Monsanto’s vice president of global biotechnology but will leave the company to become the CEO of Pairwise, told Business Insider….
If successful, the move could help the company skirt the misinformation that has plagued previous gene editing tools like GMOs.