The Wall Street Journal‘s Jacob Bunge reports that Monsanto is attempting to stay ahead of its competitors by adding new technologies to its genetic modification tool kit. New gene editing methods like the much publicized Crispr-Cas9 and the lesser known Exzact are changing the way scientists modify organisms. Bunge writes:
…seed giants and Farm Belt upstarts view gene editing as the new front in genetic technology, potentially offering a cheaper and easier method of tweaking plants’ DNA.
Emerging technologies such as Crispr-Cas9 and Exzact allow scientists to change a plant’s performance without inserting genes from other species or bacteria. Gene editing can also help researchers insert new genes more precisely into plants’ DNA, hastening the development of biotech plants that can produce their own bug-killing proteins.
Over the past year, Monsanto has licensed two different Crispr versions, Crispr-Cas and Crispr-Cpf1, as well as the Exzact technology and another gene-editing platform developed by TargetGene Biotechnologies Ltd. The company has recruited medical and pharmaceutical researchers to explore the technologies’ potential to tweak the genes of corn, soybeans, cotton and vegetables in ways that will make farmers more profitable.
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