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How's It Going to Go Over?

Gene-edited food may soon be appearing on grocery store shelves, raising questions as to whether consumers will buy such products, the Associated Press reports.

It estimates that food from plants and animals that have had their genomes edited will be for sale toward the beginning of next year. Researchers and companies have been applying CRISPR and other gene-editing tools to develop, for instance, dairy cows without hornspigs that are resistant to some porcine diseases, and soybeans that produce oil that is less fatty.

"If the consumer sees the benefit, I think they'll embrace the products and worry less about the technology," Dan Voytas, a University of Minnesota professor and chief science officer of Calyxt, which developed the edited soybeans, tells the AP.

However, the AP notes that various regions have adopted different regulatory approaches to gene editing. The US Department of Agriculture announced in March that it had no plans to oversee gene-edited plants as such plants could also have been developed through traditional breeding methods, though the AP notes the Food and Drug Administration said it may have tighter restrictions, though it is expected to offer guidance next year. Meanwhile, the European Court of Justice ruled in July that gene editing was a type of genetic modification and organism altered in that way fall under the GMO Directive.

Developers of gene-editing crops and livestock have said they plan to develop strategies to make consumers more comfortable with gene-edited food.