Using CRISPR Technology to Improve Health by Increasing the Consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Dietary factors are the number one disease risk globally. In the U.S., on average, Americans consume approximately 50% of the daily recommended intake for fruit and 65% for vegetables. While there are myriad factors that influence diet and food choices, both individual experiences and consumer data demonstrate that many fruits and vegetables are not always available, are unpalatable, and/or have limited shelf-life—all factors that contribute to low consumption of fruits and vegetables and high food waste. While the underlying genetics for addressing many of these problems already exist in wild and domesticated species of fruits and vegetables, it could take decades or even centuries to use traditional plant breeding to achieve the needed improvements. Although molecular breeding and genetic modification are viable tools in addressing this major health challenge, the use of these technologies has focused primarily on increasing yields in a few large acreage row crops. Whereas the emerging CRISPR technology can increase productivity for crops such as corn and soy, broader technology uses can more quickly improve public health by increasing the quality, convenience, and availability of fruits and vegetables at lower costs.