A better bean or Frankenfood: First gene-edited crop harvested
For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the hi-tech soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a frankenfood future.
Zimmerman is among farmers in three states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet unknown peril.
In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff -- in this case, polyunsaturated fats -- or enhance good stuff that’s already there.
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