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From spuds to strawberries: Simplot’s new business venture

An Idaho company known for potatoes has its sights set on strawberries.

The J.R. Simplot Company is teaming up with Plant Sciences Inc., a California-based plant breeding company, to launch the first commercially available gene-edited strawberry. Using new breeding technology, the two companies say this genetically altered strawberry will stay fresh longer and have an extended growing season.

Simplot and PSI both see the current strawberry market ripe for innovation, as 35% of fresh strawberries are thrown away every year because of spoilage.

[Simplot introduces new ‘delivery fry,’ designed to stay hot longer]

“At Simplot, we’re excited to participate in a project that may help growers achieve higher yields on less land, resulting in fewer pesticides and reduced water and labor needs, all while extending the quality of a consumer’s favorite foods,” said Susan Collinge PhD, Vice President of Simplot Plant Sciences.

This isn’t the first time Simplot has genetically modified crops. The company previously brought to market two generations of its Innate®- branded potato varieties by adapting genes from wild and cultivated potatoes featuring reduced black spots, lower sugars, and protection from late blight pathogens.

[EPA fines Simplot for violations at Oregon & Idaho pesticide facilities]

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

The companies plan to make the gene-edited strawberries available to consumers in the next few years.

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Gretchen Parsons - BoiseDev Managing Editor
Gretchen Parsons is BoiseDev's managing editor. Contact her at gretchen@boisedev.com.

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