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CRISPR Is What's for Dinner

DuPont has entered into an agreement with genome-editing firm Caribou Biosciences, which spun off from CRISPR researcher Jennifer Doudna's lab at the University of California, Berkeley, Forbes reports.

At Technology Review, Antonio Regalado adds that DuPont has already begun to use the CRISPR genome-editing tool to develop drought-resistant corn and wheat that doesn't self-pollinate and can then instead hybridize. The company says it's growing such plants in greenhouses and will begin field trials in the spring.

As part of this agreement, DuPont has made an investment in Caribou, and will have exclusive rights in crops like corn and soybeans to the CRISPR/Cas9 patents UC-Berkeley has applied for, if they are approved. (There is, though, an ongoing CRISPR patent dispute between the University of California and the Broad Institute.)

"We are talking about bringing products to market in five to 10 years," Neal Gutterson, vice president for agricultural biotechnology at DuPont's Pioneer Hi-Bred tells Regalado. "That is a pretty damn good time line compared to other technology."

Gutterson adds that genome editing opens up number of possibilities for agriculture. Currently, he notes that much of the focus is on developing crops that are disease or drought resistant more quickly than can be achieved by conventional breeding means. And further down the road, a crop like peanuts, for instance, could be edited to remove the proteins linked to most allergies.