CRISPR save crops

How CRISPR could help save crops from devastation caused by pests

Published On: February 20, 2023Categories: Planetary health

By: Emma Foehringer Merchant

Gene editing insects could help reduce reliance on pesticides—and help protect billion-dollar industries.

Central California grape-grower Steve McIntyre was familiar with Pierce’s Disease. But that did not prepare him for what he saw when he visited his brother’s Southern California citrus and avocado farm in 1998. The disease, which causes vines to wither and grapes to deflate like old balloons, had long existed in California. But the infection he saw on a farm adjacent to his brother’s property seemed different.

“It was devastation,” says McIntyre. Blocks of grapes looked as though their irrigation had been entirely cut. On his flight home, McIntyre contemplated calling a realtor to offload his land. His own vines, he thought, were doomed.

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