The alliance may allow for Monsanto to introduce the first produce made with the blockbuster gene-editing tool, CRISPR. The CRISPR tool allows scientists to target specific problem areas within the genome of a living thing and tweak the DNA to adjust the taste, shelf life, and other attributes of the product.
Monsanto has long been criticized for its role in popularizing genetically modified organisms and for being one of a handful of companies that produced "Agent Orange," a carcinogenic herbicide.
However, most scientists agree that GMOs are safe to eat and that they have played a significant role in helping farmers grow more food on less land. Scientists are already using CRISPR to edit the genes of plants and animals to make them healthier and more resistant to heat and disease.
Monsanto and Pairwise aim to get some of the first fruits and vegetables made with CRISPR on grocery-store shelves within 5 to 10 years.
"Crispr is far and away technically more efficient and more effective at doing the kinds of things we want," Bob Reiter, Monsanto's global vice president of research and development strategy, told Business Insider.
It is partially due to CRISPR's accuracy that the US Department of Agriculture has chosen not to regulate close to a dozen crops edited with CRISPR as GMOs. Instead, the crops have essentially been given a green light, meaning companies can move forward with development.
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