Zachary Lippman, a plant biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, stood among 2 acres of his experimental crops, including some altered with a gene-editing technology called Crispr-Cas9, one of the most ambitious efforts yet to improve on what nature created.
He plucked a tomato, held it up and asked: “Will people eat it?”
That question is rippling through the food industry, where a battle for public opinion is under way even before the new gene-edited foods hit the market.
Proponents including scientists and agriculture-industry executives say gene editing in plants could transform agriculture and help feed a growing global population. Organic farmers and natural-food companies say it may pose risks to human health and permanently alter the environment by spreading beyond farms.