Anti-microbial protein produced by GMO plants effective at killing E. coli on meat, produce

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A team of scientists is genetically engineering plants to produce antimicrobial proteins known as colicins, which can be extracted and applied to contaminated meat and produce to kill E. coli bacteria. The research team, led by scientists from two German biotech companies, Nomad Bioscience and Icon Genetics, found that certain plants can yield high levels of active colicins.

“All of the food outbreaks that have been recorded in the last 15 years or so could have been controlled very well by a combination of just two colicins, applied at very low concentrations,” said Yuri Gleba, CEO of Nomad Bioscience and one of the authors of the study. He added that colicins are 50 times more active against bacteria than normal antibiotics.

Most E. coli in food is found in contaminated beef and pork, but an increasing number of infections have been linked to organic produce, which is typically fertilized with animal manure.

A third party economic analysis found that the method costs less than other decontamination methods, such as acid washes and heat processing, currently favored by the meat industry. Furthermore, Gleba believes their process is superior because colicins don’t affect the quality and taste of the meat.

The scientists plan to seek approval from the U.S. FDA for the process to be considered GRAS (or “generally recognized as safe”).

Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, a food safety microbiologist at the University of Minnesota, warned that FDA’s approval could take a long time. “I think it would be difficult to make the case that these colicins should qualify for GRAS because they’re not typically part of the human diet.”

Read full, original post:  Research Shows GE Plants Produce Proteins Able to Reduce E. Coli on Food

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