Gene-Edited Strawberries are Coming to Market Without USDA Approval

“Gene-edited” strawberries will have a longer shelf life, but at what cost? Studies show technology can lead to plant toxicity, massive chromosome damage and cancer.

An Idaho biotech company that quietly brought gene-edited potatoes to market is now helping a California-based berry breeding company bring gene-edited strawberries to the world.

The JR Simplot Company announced Thursday it would be partnering with Plant Sciences Inc. in developing gene-edited strawberries that stay “fresh” longer and have a longer growing season.

The berries will be sold in grocery stores within the next few years the companies say, but you won’t know whether you are buying them or not, as there is no GMO labeling law in the United States.

And, the berries won’t even need USDA approval before coming to market,  as the agency has decided the gene-editing technology, known as CRISPR, “replicates a natural process.”

Unlike conventional genetic engineering, which includes the transfer of genes from one species to another, gene-editing “simply” deletes or turns off genes already present in the organism.

While almost every mainstream media outlet reporting on the gene-edited strawberries cites “no evidence that GMOs are unsafe to eat,” the Organic Consumer’s Association provides a long list of problems gene-editing could potentially cause and already cause. Just type CRISPR into the search bar on their website.

A 2018 study found that large deletions or mutations were occurring even several thousand DNA bases away from the target site. “If such mangled edits were introduced into humans in a CRISPR/Cas9 treatment, important genes might end up being switched on or off, which could make for potentially serious health consequences,” the study’s authors write.

A 2019 study found that new types of mRNAs (messenger RNA molecules) or proteins can form at the site where the DNA is cut. The “novel proteins can result in altered plant biochemistry, leading to unexpected toxicity,” the study’s authors write.

A 2021 study released just last month found CRISPR gene editing can lead to massive damage to chromosomes resulting from the shattering of individual chromosomes and the subsequent rejoining of the pieces in a haphazard order.

The chromosome damage, called chromothripsis, can lead to cancer or an inherited disease in any children of the affected patient. “You cannot make this go away by making the cutting more specific,” said study author David Pellman of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.

Over a billion pounds of gene-edited potatoes have already been sold to unsuspecting American customers in grocery stores and restaurants.

Gene-edited chickens are in the works in Scotland.

And a “mad scientist” in China has already produced twin gene-edited human babies.