People have been raving—and ranting— about how CRISPR will change the lives of humans, from the food we eat to finding a cure for diseases. You’ve heard of genetically modified crops or GMOs and babies but what about yogurt?
Looking back in the 1970s, scientists combined the desireable genes of two species with hopes of producing a useful new hybrid. This resulted in frost-resistant fish tomatoes, a symbol of failure in genetically modified foods.
According to gene editing professionals, CRISPR technology is more precise, faster, and cheaper. It can also easily be edited, just like writing a story where you can go back and make changes as you wish.
CRISPR a big potential in agriculture
CRISPR also shows big potential in transforming the agriculture sector. Although first-generation GMOs were focused on being resistant to herbicides, CRISPR is now being used to edit a variety of foods, not just corn and soy but also minor vegetables and fruits. It has also been used to increase the harvest of rice crops and modify the color of carrots.
Just to give you a better insight into how CRISPR will transform our food, we will look into the yogurt-culture facility of DuPont which is located at Madison, Wisconsin. Yogurt scientist Dennis Romero and his colleagues accidentally discovered how bacteria could turn milk into something as wonderful as yogurt. They have now isolated and cataloged every strain of bacteria to turn milk into sour, creamy, thick, or thin to suit their customer’s preference.
Jennifer Kuzma, the co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University and Yiping Qi, a genetics researcher at the University of Maryland both believe in the technology’s good and bad potential, and the need to have it regulated and labeled. Joyce Van Eck, a plant geneticist at the Boyce Thompson Institute in Ithaca, New York, also uses CRISPR to domesticate one of the Americas’ most delicious orphan crops—tomatoes.
CRISPR modified crops have not yet hit the shelves. However, the buying public doesn’t have to wait that long.