Would you buy a CRISPR salad from these men?

The company which developed the new vegetable (and is working on new varieties of cherries and berries) was founded by CRISPR top scientists David Liu, Keith Joung and Feng Zhang

By now it seems official. The first CRISPR plant to debut in the US market will not be a commodity for industry or intensive livestock farming, as was the case with classic GMOs in the 1990s. This time genetic innovation enters on tiptoe, with a food product designed for discerning consumers. A new type of salad, as nutrient-rich as a wild misticanza but without the bitter notes that usually relegate brassicas to foods to be eaten cooked (see here).

At first it will enter the menus of a few restaurants between Minneapolis, St. Louis and Springfield. Then this summer it should be sold directly to consumers, the first grocery stores probably in the Pacific Northwest.

The salad comes from a company founded by some of the most celebrated CRISPR pioneers, active between Harvard, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital: Feng Zhang (who would have deserved a share of the CRISPR Nobel Prize, having adapted the bacterial system to eukaryotic cells), David Liu (the CRISPR 2.0 models able to change the DNA without severing the double helix came out of his lab) and Keith Joung (father of other CRISPR variants optimised for precision).

The Japanese model seems to have set the standard with its tomatoes and prized fish: genetic innovation now comes in the form of high-quality products and soft marketing, rather than arriving at ports with ships laden with commodities. Will this also happen in Europe?

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