This site was created to make information about CRISPR applications in agriculture accessible and easier to understand. From the basics of how this technology works to how we at Corteva Agriscience are applying it to improve agriculture, this page will provide you with facts about CRISPR.
- Q. What is CRISPR?
A: CRISPR is a breakthrough in biology with the potential for a wide range of applications. For agriculture, it represents a more efficient and targeted way to improve plants and grow healthy, nutritious food that’s better for people and the environment. CRISPR gene editing can create an improved plant that does not include DNA from a different species. CRISPR makes it possible to deliver nutritious plants that could occur in nature or be developed through conventional breeding, but faster and more efficiently.
- Q. Why is CRISPR needed?
A: Agriculture is at a crossroads. Plants are under attack from changing weather, drought, floods, heat waves, diseases and pests. At the same time, our population is growing and consumers are increasingly demanding food that is healthier for their families and the planet. This means we need tools like CRISPR to grow more food that is better for people and the environment using fewer resources.Separately, CRISPR is being used in human medicine to discover treatments or cures for serious genetic diseases and conditions, such as certain types of cancer, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis and early-onset Alzheimer’s, with the potential to improve the lives of millions.
- Q. How does CRISPR work in plants?
A: CRISPR functions much like editing text in a word processing application. The CRISPR system performs a specific search within the plant’s own DNA — an organism’s complete set of instructions — to delete, edit or move a gene to achieve a specific characteristic such as drought resistance, disease tolerance or improved nutrition.
- Q. How does CRISPR work on a scientific level in plant applications?
A: CRISPR works by editing plant’s existing characteristics without incorporating DNA from a different species. It is the process of making targeted and exact changes to the plant’s own DNA made up of sequences of four nucleobases that comprise genes and other genomic features determining plant characteristics and diversity. Please read a more detailed overview here as well as this TED Talk, “How CRISPR Lets Us Edit Our DNA.”
- Q. How is CRISPR regulated?
A: The U.S. has implemented a Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology to evaluate biotechnology products, which involves the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The USDA has published a response to Corteva Pioneer’s “Regulated Article Letter of Inquiry” stating that it does not consider its next generation Waxy Corn developed with CRISPR advanced breeding technology as regulated by USDA Biotechnology Regulatory Services. Corteva routinely engages with regulatory agencies about our products, and we comply with all food safety regulations.
- Q. Will Corteva's next generation waxy corn, developed with CRISPR technology, require labeling in the United States?
A: The characteristics in CRISPR-produced Waxy Corn could occur in nature or be produced with conventional breeding. Waxy Corn is not a GMO and therefore does not require that labeling.
- Q. How is a plant developed with CRISPR genome editing different from a GMO (genetically modified organism)?
A: “GMO” is a term that is traditionally used to refer to transgenic plants. “Transgenic” means that the plant includes DNA from a different species that has been inserted via genetic engineering. In contrast, researchers can use CRISPR to create an improved plant that does not include DNA from a different species. To learn more about GMOs, please visit GMO Answers.
- Q. Will Corteva use CRISPR to replace GMOs?
A: CRISPR is one of many tools Corteva uses to develop seeds that help farmers grow more healthy food with less land and fewer resources. Corteva will continue to provide a variety of seed choices, including those developed from conventional, hybrid, GMO and CRISPR methods to meet the needs of farmers and consumers.
- Q. Will products developed with CRISPR be safe?
A: Yes, CRISPR can be used in agriculture to deliver plants that are as safe as plants found in nature or produced through conventional breeding or GMO technology. Corteva rigorously tests CRISPR-produced seeds to confirm the intended changes are made to a plant’s own DNA and the resulting plants perform as expected. Safety and health are core values that guide Corteva. We are committed to the safety of all the products we bring to market and to making information about CRISPR and how it is being used to produce seeds transparent and available to the public.