Gene editing could cut food additive use and put more nutritious options in supermarkets

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[In 2019], Minneapolis-based Calyxt introduced a soybean oil without trans fats for commercial sale. It was the first gene-edited food to reach market. Dan Voytas, a professor of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, is a cofounder of the company and remains its chief scientific officer.

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Dan Voytas. Credit: University of Minnesota

Here’s what he has to say about the future of food, how language shapes perception around biotechnology and food, and the advantages gene editing offers over traditional breeding techniques.

A decade or two from now, how will the food available in our local grocery store change?

There’s an ongoing move toward the “clean label,” meaning you can understand all of the ingredients: Wheat. Flour. Butter. Eggs. Things like preservatives or antioxidants are considered less desirable. Yet, so many of those ingredients are added to food to overcome some inherently negative attribute like discoloration.

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This is where gene editing comes in. It’s going to improve food ingredients and make them healthier so we don’t have to add chemicals or use additives to achieve the desired outcomes. Locally sourced food is another area we’ll see continue to grow, I believe. At Calyxt, all of our grain is grown in Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas ….

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