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Agricultural Editing

Agricultural companies that sell seeds are looking into gene editing and are developing strategies to make consumers more comfortable with the technology, the Wall Street Journal reports.

When genetically modified organisms were introduced, consumers had concerns about such crops, and the Journal says companies want to avoid that situation this time around. Consumers were particularly concerned about the health and environmental risks of modified crops. Those genetic modification approaches rely on introducing genes from other organisms into target crops, whereas newer methods involve altering the crops' own DNA.

DowDuPont's James Collins tells the Journal that that difference makes gene-edited crops more like those that have undergone traditional breeding. He adds that getting people to accept such crops will require engaging with them on a local level.

"There's a big piece of this that is about explaining the benefits," Monsanto's Hugh Grant said at a meeting this week, according to the Journal.

The companies say gene editing could be used to develop crops that can better resist drought or feed an increasing global population as well as generate low-gluten wheat or canola that's resistant to herbicides.