Monsanto may have just ended the war on GMOs
The next genetically modified food you eat probably won't be a GMO.
At least not in the conventional sense of the term, which means genetically modified organism.
It will probably be made using Crispr, a new technique that lets scientists precisely tweak the DNA of produce so that it can do things like survive drought or avoid turning brown.
On Thursday, agriculture giant Monsanto nabbed the licensing rights to the technology from the Broad Institute to use in its seed development. This is the first license the company has issued to a company for use in agriculture. (Agriculture giant DuPont, on the other hand, is collaborating with another science company, called Caribou Biosciences, to license its own Crispr crops, including corn).
Harvard geneticist George Church thinks crops like these might be our best hope for ending the war against GMOs, which he and dozens of other experts call misguided, once and for all.
"It's a beautiful thing," Church recently told Business Insider.
The US Department of Agriculture seems to agree, as does Monsanto. The USDA has already moved two crops made with Crispr — a type of mushroom and a type of corn — closer to grocery store shelves by opting not to regulate them like conventional GMOs. DuPont, the company making the corn, says it plans to see the crop in farmers' fields in the next five years.
When a GMO is not a GMO
What makes these crops not GMOs, you might ask? It all comes down to the type of method that scientists are using to tweak their genes. And Crispr is a far more precise method of modifying genes than scientists have had access to before.
Instead of relying on the genetic engineering people are referring to when they talk about GMOs, which involves swapping out a plant's genes with chunks of DNA from another organism such as a bacterium, Crispr allows scientists to simply swap out a letter or two of the plant's genetic code (composed from the letters A, G, C, and T) and replace it with another one that, say, prevents it from turning brown.
"Changing a G to an A is very different from bringing a gene from a bacteria into a plant," Church said.
It does not matter what he says. What does matter is what they do: They change the genetic material. So it is Genetically Manipulated Organisms.
Changing the manipulation method from radiation to viruses to bacteria to fungi to molecular cutters and pliers does not change one thing: the direct manipulation of genes.
In contrast to long-time exposure the genetically manipulated organisms are set free in gigantic scale. So nature does not have time to react. The manipulated organisms do not have time to really develop, which, of course, takes hundreds or thousands years of time in free nature.
It is a lethal threat for the whole planet. It must be stopped.