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Gene-Edited Leafy Greens Hyped to Consumers as a “More Appetizing” Alternative

In early 2023, consumers will be pitched gene-edited mustard greens with transparent labeling. North Carolina startup Pairwise, founded in 2017, uses genome editing technology that the company claims to increase the “appeal” of fresh vegetables and fruits. In this case, the gene editing is intended to remove the bitter, strong-smelling quality of mustard leaves.

The brand Conscious Foods uses CRISPR technology licensed from Harvard. Pairwise and favors full transparency­­­—genetic engineering will be clearly found on the package with product processing information available through a QR code.

“We’re not going to hide from it, but we also really want to be selling the product based on the benefits rather than the technology,” Dr. Tom Adams, CEO at Pairwise said.

Other gene-edited plants in development are seedless fruits, cherries without pits, and blackberries grown without thorns.

Acceptance of GMO foods among consumers remains uncertain. The strength of the organic market is a definite obstacle, especially since consumers choose organic for its cleaner, safer, health-promoting attributes.