USDA Clears Gene-edited CRISPR Mushrooms

Posted: Apr 16 2016, 8:40am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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USDA Clears Gene-edited CRISPR Mushrooms
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  • GM Mushrooms given the Safety Signal by the USDA

The latest news to hit the circuit is that GM mushrooms have been given the safety signal by the USDA. However, the approval of the FDA is still needed.

Forget about designer babies. The latest thing to come to the fore is genetically modified mushrooms. The USDA has cleared the very first CRISPR-modified organism.

CRISPR is all about gene editing. The technology was used on white mushrooms to turn off the gene responsible for giving them a brown coloration upon exposure to the air. These new GM mushrooms were 70% less likely to rust when left out in the open.

Since the CRISPR technology doesn’t employ bacteria or viruses, these mushrooms are not plant pests by any standard. However, before these pure white mushrooms end up in your restaurant steak or in a breakfast cheese omelet, they will have to be given the thumbs up by the regulatory authority.

That means that the FDA’s approval is mandatory before the mushrooms hit the supermarket shelves. The FDA could throw a spanner in the works if it chooses to do so.

This white button mushroom resembles the Arctic Apple or other genetically modified potatoes, according to Nature. The main feature of not turning brown when oxidation occurs is a miracle of genetic engineering.

Usually this brown coloration comes about due to an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. After gene deletion the impossible finally became possible.

The older methods of genetic modification included using bacteria and viruses. Yet today such is not the case. Those days have been left far behind. Via CRISPR technology, the rules and regulations of the USDA (and hopefully the FDA in the future) will have been bypassed in a clever way.

Biotechnology advances in the next decade and a half will surprise humanity by their sheer “miracle in a bottle” capacity. As for the final formal result of what goes on in the genetic engineers’ labs, it is a commercial application of the knowledge.

In the future, genetically modified foods will form the core of the fresh produce at supermarkets. The fears and concerns related to their safety will long since have been allayed.

That is because the new is always greeted with revulsion at first and later on accepted. Finally, it is wholeheartedly embraced. Yet all this takes time and occurs on an evolutionary learning curve.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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