The Role of Heirloom Crops vs Genetic Engineering in Future Food Systems

The food system is a tale of two halves today. On one side, consumers want to go back in time to eat locally-sourced, clean, simple, organic produce, including a growing taste for vintage varieties of certain fruits and vegetables. Technically called landrace or heirloom varieties, the most familiar are tomatoes, but we’re also seeing a return to pre-genetically engineered varieties of commodity crops including popcorn. On the flip side, technological advancements are making genetic engineering (GE) more commonplace as the discovery of new genetic tools, most famously CRISPR Cas-9 gene editing, has brought down the cost and accessibility of the technology.

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