BEIJING —Origin Agritech Ltd. is developing nutritionally enhanced corn using CRISPR technology. The Beijing-based agricultural technology company is developing new corn varieties that have been genetically engineered (GE) to have balanced amino-acid content. Maize (corn) protein contains fair amounts of sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine, but it is deficient in the essential amino acids lysine and tryptophan, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

CRISPR gene editing does not introduce foreign DNA into corn and more closely mimics gene mutations that frequently occur in nature, according to Origin Agritech. It also costs less money and takes less time to develop GE corn using CRISPR than using traditional GMO technology.

“We are very excited to be working on this industry leading application of CRISPR in agriculture,” said Gengchen Han, PhD, chairman of Origin Agritech. “Our nutrition balanced corn trait would not only significantly reduce the need for costly additives in animal feed, it will also pave the way for many more applications of CRISPR technology.”