US companies announce plans for gene-edited strawberries

Genetically-Modified Strawberries

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho company that successfully brought genetically modified potatoes to the market announced an agreement Thursday to help a California-based plant breeding company grow strawberries they say will stay fresh longer and have a longer growing season.

J.R. Simplot Company and Plant Sciences Inc., both privately-held companies, said they expect to launch the first commercially available, gene-edited strawberries within a few years.

U.S. growers produced $2.2 billion in strawberries in 2020, mostly in California, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But consumers discarded an estimated 35% of the crop due to spoilage. Simplot and Plant Sciences officials said genetically modified strawberries will help reduce waste, and make them available to consumers much of the year.

The strawberries will contain genes from only strawberries, selecting desirable traits that have been cultivated over decades.

“It's the same technology we're working on with potatoes,” said Doug Cole, director of Marketing and Biotech Affairs at Simplot. “We have the opportunity to do that with this technology."