Quantcast

Potato Company Simplot Licenses DowDuPont’s Gene Editing Tech

Food
Pixabay

By Dan Nosowitz

The agricultural company J.R. Simplot Company, one of the largest potato producers in the world, struck a deal with the developers of a specific gene editing technology. That tech will allow Simplot to precisely edit the genomes of crops for various reasons: longer shelf life, drought resistance, aesthetic changes like a potato that doesn't brown when it's cut and exposed to oxygen.


The developers are DowDuPont, Harvard and MIT; the technology is a form of CRISPR, which is a technology that allows gene editing. With gene editing, an organism's genome can have bits deleted or added very easily. Interestingly, a few months ago, the USDA announced that it would not be regulating CRISPR-edited organisms the same way it does for other GMOs. The rationale there is that CRISPR is more like an accelerated form of selective cross-breeding. (Not everyone agrees that this is the right approach.)

Anyway, the deal allows Simplot, which actually produces food, to use this intellectual property in a fairly broad sense, experimenting to find out what best to do with it. None of the actual developers of the technology are in the food business, so they've licensed the tech to a company that is.

Simplot, based in Idaho, developed the frozen French fry and quickly became the dominant supplier of fries to fast food chains. Since then, the company has branched into seed, fertilizer, mining, cattle and all kinds of other categories broadly within agriculture. (It does not have a good agricultural record; in one example, the company dumped selenium from mines into Idaho waterways, causing two-headed trout.)

Simplot has also been a pioneer in agricultural tech developments; a few years ago, the company was approved to release the Innate potato, which is any of several types of potato that has been modified to resist browning and bruising. After an outcry, McDonald's declared it would not use this potato, though as with most genetically modified foods, there has been no indication that the Innate potato is dangerous.

According to the Associated Press, the newly licensed technology will be used in a variety of ways, but not for a few years, while the company figures out how best to use it.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate change activists gather in front of the stage at the Extinction Rebellion group's environmental protest camp at Marble Arch in London on April 22, on the eighth day of the group's protest calling for political change to combat climate change. TOLGA AKMEN / AFP / Getty Images

Extinction Rebellion, the climate protest that has blocked major London thoroughfares since Monday April 15, was cleared from three key areas over Easter weekend, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

Veganism refers to a way of living that attempts to minimize animal exploitation and cruelty. For this reason, vegans aim to exclude all foods containing meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey from their diet (1).

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
American farmers use chlorpyrifos, a pesticide tied to brain and nervous system issues, on crops such as apples, broccoli, corn and strawberries. Stephanie Chapman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jessica Corbett

In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.

Read More Show Less
fstop123 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.

To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.

Read More Show Less
NASA

By Shuchi Talati

Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don't yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Maria Gunnoe Flight, courtesy of southwings.org

By Julia Conley

Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.

Read More Show Less
NASA scientists flew over the Kuskokwim river in southwest Alaska in 2017 to investigate how water levels in the Arctic landscape change as permafrost thaws. Peter Griffith, NASA

By Tim Radford

Scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.

Read More Show Less
Youtube screenshot

A woman has been caught on camera dumping a bag of puppies near a dumpster in Coachella, California, CNN reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less