24 Nov 2021



US-based J.R. Simplot Company has announced that it has entered into astrategic alliance with Plant Sciences Inc. (PSI), a plant breeding company, to promote new breeding techniques for strawberries, including genetic editing.

Simplot and PSI have been collaborating since 2011 on several new breeding technologies and plan to launch the first commercially available genetically modified strawberry in the next few years. The partnership provides both companies with an enhanced ability to bring better strawberries to market with Simplot's technology and PSI's germplasm and leadership.

The strawberry market is number one for innovation. Every year,about 35 per cent of fresh strawberries are discarded by consumers due to rejections from poor storage or short shelf life (Yuwei Qin and Arpad Horvath 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 014024). The use of new breeding techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing tools in strawberry development is expected to improve shelf life and significantly reduce such waste.

Under the Simplot-PSI strategic alliance, Simplot will use pioneering gene editing technologies to advance strawberry traits. PSI will provide its proprietary strawberry germplasm, plant breeding expertise and lead the commercialisation of successful varieties.

"At Simplot, we're excited to participate in a project that can help growers achieve higher yields on less land, resulting in reduced pesticides, water and labour requirements, all while extending the quality of consumers' favourite foods," said Susan Collinge PhD, vice president of Simplot Plant Sciences.

CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tools can be used to introduce modest changes to a plant's genome. In 2020, theUSDA clarified some regulatory exemptions with plants produced through novel and innovative breeding techniques, including genome editing techniques.

"We are highly motivated to build on our learnings with the J.R. Simplot Company and fully expect to have a profound impact on the strawberry industry by offering improved varieties with qualities that both growers and consumers will appreciate," said Steve Nelson, President and CEO of PSI.

In 2018, Simplot executed a joint intellectual property licensing agreement with Corteva Agriscience™, and the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard for the foundational CRISPR-Cas9 and related gene editing tools.

Simplot has previously brought to market two generations of its Innate® brand potato varieties by adapting genes from wild and cultivated potatoes that show reduced black spots, reduced asparagine, lower sugars and protection from late blight pathogens.

About Simplot

J.R. Simplot Company is a family-owned and privately held global food and agriculture company headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Its integrated portfolio includes food processing and food brands, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, agriculture, livestock and other agriculture-related businesses. Simplot has significant operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia and China, with products and services available to customers worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.simplot.com.

About Plant Sciences, Inc.

Committed to advancing agriculture through science, Plant Sciences, Inc. (PSI) has emerged as a leading agricultural research company with a focus on growing and propagating berry crops for the global marketplace. PSI and its affiliates hold more than 50 plant patents and growing rights certificates for proprietary strawberry and raspberry varieties and supply plants to leading growers in more than 50 countries. PSI is also aggressively preparing for its first commercial releases of proprietary blackberry and blueberry varieties. PSI believes that the most competitive berry varieties provide an effective defense against agronomic threats while prioritizing buyer and consumer expectations for flavor, appearance and shelf life. Read more about PSI: http://www.plantsciences.com.

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