DuPont Pioneer unveils its first CRISPR product

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JOHNSTON, Iowa — DuPont Pioneer recently unveiled waxy corn hybrids as its first commercial agricultural product developed through the application of CRISPR-Cas enabled advanced breeding technology.

This next generation of waxy corn hybrids is expected to be available to U.S. growers within five years, pending field trails and regulatory reviews.

“Starting with an identity-preserved product as our initial CRISPR-Cas offering allows us to lay a solid foundation for success of future larger volume products from this plant breeding innovation,” said Neal Gutterson, vice president, research and development for DuPont Pioneer.

Waxy corn

In the United States, about a half-million acres of waxy corn are grown each year, however, they traditionally yield less than non-waxy corn hybrids.

Waxy corn produces a high amylopectin starch content, which is milled for a number of everyday consumer food and non-food uses including processed foods, adhesives and high-gloss paper. Waxy corn is typically grown on contract through a closed-loop production system commonly referred to as “identity preserved.”

“The next generation of waxy hybrids developed with CRISPR-Cas will represent a step-change in how efficiently we bring elite genetic platforms of high-yielding waxy corn to our customers,” Gutterson said.

USDA green light

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently stated (link opens .pdf of USDA letter) that it does not consider next-generation waxy corn developed with CRISPR-Cas enabled advanced breeding technology as regulated by USDA Biotechnology Regulatory Services.

Gutterson said the company will continue to consult with “global regulatory bodies and government agencies in order to understand the potential regulations around the world.”

Potential

Pioneer is establishing a CRISPR-Cas enabled advanced breeding platform to develop seed products for greater environmental resiliency with characteristics like disease resistance and drought tolerance. Gutterson said the technology has applicability for all Pioneer crops of interest.

“This is just the beginning.”

Pioneer previously announced strategic agreements for research collaborations and intellectual property (IP) licenses with Vilnius University and with Caribou Biosciences to advance CRISPR-Cas.

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