EU Approval of Genetic Scissors Could Boost Health Benefits of Lettuce and Tomato

EU Approval of Genetic Scissors Could Boost Health Benefits of Lettuce and Tomato

The European Parliament has ruled that stringent GMO regulations will not be applied to genetically engineered crops, with the final decision resting with the member countries.

Enhanced taste, increased nutritional content, and improved disease resistance in crops like salad, tomatoes, potatoes, and wheat are some of the benefits promised by altering the genes of crops using the Nobel prize-winning crispr-cas technology.

Around 500 different products at various stages of development have benefited from the use of genetic scissors.

In Japan, genetically edited tomatoes containing higher amounts of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – a compound believed to lower blood pressure and offer other health benefits – are already available in stores.

The benefits of genetic scissors could soon be enjoyed in Europe as well.

The European Union has, for a long time, enforced stringent regulations on the use of genetic technology in plant breeding and the sale of genetically modified (GMO) food. These restrictions also apply to genetically modified food.

However, in early February, the European Parliament voted that plants bred with genetic scissors and some other “new genetic technologies” would be governed by the same rules as conventionally bred crops.

This implies that the strict regulations on GMO plants will no longer apply to the cultivation and sale of these plants.

Member countries still need to approve the Parliament’s decision before it becomes law.

According to Professor Teemu Teeri from the University of Helsinki, the new technologies differ from traditional gene editing, which is used to make GMO plants. In traditional GMOs, a gene from another organism is transferred to the plant. However, with new technologies, only the plant’s own genome is changed, resulting in mutations similar to those that occur naturally.

Gene scissors can also be used to remove functioning genes to achieve certain results in breeding. For example, harmful substances in rapeseed and canola have been removed through this technique.

Genetic scissors can also be used to improve the disease resistance of plants. For example, it can be used to introduce frost resistance in barley and wheat or to bring plague resistance in potatoes. They can also be used to prevent fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms from darkening by removing the gene that produces the darkening enzyme.

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