Gene-edited vegetables and crops - pros and cons

Gene-edited vegetables and crops - pros and cons

Gene-edited vegetables and crops - pros and cons

Facts:

Potatoes: Cellectis Plant Sciences edited the gene of potatoes to help them remain fresher longer. These potatoes wouldn’t produce carcinogen when fried. They could be available by 2019.

Soybeans: The cooking oil made from gene-edited soybeans will not need hydrogenation. There will be no Trans fats in the oil produced.

Mushrooms: Pennsylvania State University scientists have used a technology names Crispr to produce mushrooms that will not turn brown as quickly as it does.

Wheat: A lab in China has created gene edited wheat that is fungus-resistant to a great extent.

Barley: A lab in UK has altered the gene of barley to promote better yield.

Waxy corn: A company named DuPont Pioneer has created a new variety of waxy corn which is used for food starch in adhesives.

Difference between GMO and gene editing of crops

Gene edited crops and vegetables are not to be confused with GMO (genetically modified organism). GMO includes modifying its genome, and when the organism multiplies or grows it carries that same genome copy in all its cells and will reflect the phenotype you have designed it for. There is no way to edit its genome inside its working cells. In order to bring modification into that organism one has to redesign its genome and allow it to grow or multiply in order to produce the new generation of the species of crop.

However, in gene editing, modification is made to the genome to correct bad mutations that happened in the organism’s genome itself. The correction can be done within the cell and involves no creation of a new generation or a lineage of it.

The current regulations only apply on GMO and hence gene edited vegetables and crops could soon be available in supermarkets. They fall outside the regulations and are known to have advantages over normal and GMO crops. They are all about tweaks and snips in DNA at precise locations.

There were criticism regarding the ill effects of GMO but so far, scientists have claimed that gene editing in crops would have only advantages and do away with any prospects of harm in future. Gene editing in animals and humans are being accepted and hence veggies and crops are not too far from being a part of the technological change.

Pros

1. Getting rid of disadvantages

Just like correcting the abnormal genes in human, gene editing in vegetables and crops could do away with the harmful effects of some edible ingredients. It will be a positive change and help people who are allergic to a certain element present in some vegetables.

2. Getting rid of trans fat

If trans fat could be exchanged for essential fat, it would be like achieving a big milestone in curing heart-diseases and obesity related disorders. This is only the beginning step and there could be more to be captured in the attempt to make food safer.

3. Meeting individual needs

People absolutely need some substances which other people are intolerant to. Meeting individual needs to suit their body type and diet can be achieved with gene editing. The new versions of wheat include one with greater resistance to fungal diseases, another lower in carbohydrates and higher in dietary fibers.

Cons

1. No regulations

The fact that there are no regulations governing gene edited food is worrying. The companies could misuse it to profit more without taking care of the disadvantages that will accompany tweaking into natural compounds. Though unknown at the moment, there will soon be concerns that will need to be addressed.

2. No mention on labels

You might already be eating genetically edited food without even knowing since there is no labeling of it. There was no mention of it even when rules regarding GMO crops were being addressed. Keeping people in the dark and not giving them the right to choose what kind of food they prefer to eat is a serious concern.

3. Consequences

The consequences of gene editing are apparently being ignored. They are considered safe. Michael K. Hansen, a senior staff scientist at Consumers Union has raised concern that “While the gene-editing templates match a specific sequence, it is possible that the same sequence occurs elsewhere in the genome or they will match similar sequences, and the DNA will be sliced in those places, too, with unknown consequences.”

As of now gene editing and its research projects continue unhampered and unregulated. They could be safer or they could carry their own consequences. It is unknown as of yet. There should, however, be regulations to ensure that companies don’t just use the techniques to earn more profit while ignoring the safe measures in the process.
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    Discussion

  • RE: Gene-edited vegetables and crops - pros and cons -Shruti Shrabya (03/17/17)
  • Genetically modified or gene-edited foods seems like daunting tasks. GM foods can produce higher yield crops, which could help by feeding in developing countries.

    There are some benefits of genetically modified foods.

    In spite of higher cost of seeds they are cited as more economical. Take an example of tomato, it can stay fresher for longer hours. It also helps the crops to with stand weather fluctuation or extremes.

    Gene-edited foods have a high content of specific nutrients that is lacking in the diet of local population. One more example can be “Golden Rice” rich in Vitamin A.

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