The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved the growing of a new kind of cotton plant that's been genetically modified to be edible. The toxic chemical gossypol in the plant usually makes the cotton dangerous for humans to eat. Texas A&M biotechnologist Keerti Rathore and colleagues genetically stopped the production of gossypol in the cottonseed while not interfering with it elsewhere in the plant where it acts as a natural insecticide. From Reuters:
“To me, personally, it tastes somewhat like chickpea and it could easily be used to make a tasty hummus,” Rathore said of gossypol-free cottonseed.
After cottonseed oil, which can be used for cooking, is extracted, the remaining high-protein meal from the new cotton plant can find many uses, Rathore said.
It can be turned into flour for use in breads, tortillas and other baked goods and used in protein bars, while whole cottonseed kernels, roasted and salted, can be consumed as a snack or to create a peanut butter type of paste, Rathore added.
(via Daily Grail)
Read the rest
Ruby was a brightly colored lamb with transparent skin. She carried jellyfish DNA and belonged to "Green Sheep," a research project in France studying the effects of implants on humans. She was then maliciously sold to a slaughterhouse along with non-GMO sheep by disgruntled employees of the project. She has since been sold as food to unsuspecting diners.
It was then sold by the slaughterhouse to an unnamed individual in October 2014, though it's not clear how many people may have eaten it. INRA says the genetically modified lamb poses no health risk to humans, though it has asked French prosecutors to investigate the incident, following an internal investigation that it launched in December.
The employees could face one year in prison and a fine of approximately $83,000.
Read the rest
The MouSensor is a lab mouse genetically-engineered to sniff out land mines. Mice have already been trained to find explosives by scent but according to Hunter College biologist Charlotte D'Hulst, the MouSensor is ultra sensitive to the odor of TNT. From The Guardian:
Given its extreme sensitivity to TNT, the mouse would probably have some sort of seizure when it sniffed explosives, said D'Hulst, because so many neurons in its olfactory bulb would be firing at once. And that seizure might be detectable by some device implanted into the mouse.
"We are thinking along the lines of implanting a chip under the skin of these animals that would wirelessly report back to a computer when the animal's behaviour is changing upon being triggered by a TNT landmine," said D'Hulst. Once the location of a landmine had been identified, a bomb-disposal expert could go in and neutralise it in the normal way. The mouse itself would be safe from the landmine, since it would be too small to trigger an explosion.
"GM mouse created to detect landmines" Read the rest
A study at Nanjing University in China found that ingested "microRNA" (very small pieces of ribonucleic acid, or RNA) from plants were able to survive digestion and influence the function of human cells.
Food columnist Ari Levaux has a piece digging into the implications, in The Atlantic. The basic idea: if this research stands up to the rigors of scientific scrutiny, it could prove that when we eat food, we consume not just fuel and nutrients, but information that changes us on a cellular level, and influences health.
Read the rest
Monsanto's website states, "There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans." This viewpoint, while good for business, is built on an understanding of genetics circa 1950. It follows what's called the "Central Dogma" (PDF) of genetics, which postulates a one-way chain of command between DNA and the cells DNA governs.
The Central Dogma resembles the process of ordering a pizza. The DNA knows what kind of pizza it wants, and orders it. The RNA is the order slip, which communicates the specifics of the pizza to the cook. The finished and delivered pizza is analogous to the protein that DNA codes for.
We've known for years that the Central Dogma, though basically correct, is overly simplistic. For example: Pieces of microRNA that don't code for anything, pizza or otherwise, can travel among cells and influence their activities in many other ways. So while the DNA is ordering pizza, it's also bombarding the pizzeria with unrelated RNA messages that can cancel a cheese delivery, pay the dishwasher nine million dollars, or email the secret sauce recipe to WikiLeaks.