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CRISPR (Not Crisper) Lettuce

Jennifer Polanz
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We’re not talking about a lettuce that has a crunch, we’re talking about CRISPR-edited greens commercially available for what, we believe, is the first time. The lettuce, called Conscious Greens Purple Power Baby Greens Blend, comes from Pairwise, a food startup whose goal is to offer CRISPR-developed foods.  

CRISPR technology is rather complicated, but at its essence it’s editing the DNA of the plant. It’s important to note this is not adding any different DNA to the lettuce—it’s editing it to silence or activate genes to, for example, increase nutrients, change taste or improve disease resistance. It does in a fraction of the time what breeding accomplishes to create new varieties.

The new blend is the first in a broader lineup of Conscious Greens, which will be co-branded with Performance Food Groups Peak Fresh Produce brand.

“We’re proud to be bringing the first CRISPR food product to the U.S. We set out to solve an important problem—that most lettuce isn’t very nutritious, and other types of greens are too bitter or too hard to eat,” said Haven Baker, Pairwise Co-founder and Chief Business Officer. “Using CRISPR, we’ve been able to improve new types of nutritious greens to make them more desirable for consumers and we did it in a quarter of the time of traditional breeding methods.”

As for the future? The company is working on pitless cherries and mangoes.

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