Agricultural firms are hoping that gene-editing tools will enable them to produce crops that can stave off disease, the Financial Times reports. It notes, though, that both varying regulations and the public view of modified foods are issues to overcome.
For instance, researchers have been exploring genetic engineering approaches to provide bananas with resistance to Panama disease, a fungus that infects the monoculture Cavendish — the most common variety grown. As the Financial Times reports, the firm Tropic Biosciences is also looking into applying those tools for bananas, while Mars is examining them for cocoa and other companies for other crops.
The Financial Times notes, though, that larger firms might be better positioned to use gene editing as they have the resources to slog through what could be more than a decade of development and differing regulatory requirements. The US has indicated that gene-edited crops would be treated like any other traditionally bred organism, though Europe has said they would be handled the same as genetically modified organisms.
At the same time, Financial Times adds, though, that the public is wary of modified foods.