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Gene edited allergy-free peanuts on horizon but GMO fears may block arrival

| | October 6, 2015

The GLP curated this excerpt as part of a daily selection of biotechnology-related news, opinion and analysis.

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While you won’t find too many PB&Js in the modern American schoolyard you’ll find plenty of Epipens. Peanut allergies are on the verge of becoming an epidemic. It’s a solvable problem, but it’s unclear whether or not the solution will be palatable to consumers.

The most cost- and time-effective solution to the peanut allergy problem is an allergy-free peanut. Scientists have tried making one before, but conventional breeding techniques won’t cut it. Now, a new gene-editing technology called CRISPR is precise enough to make the hypoallergenic peanut a reality.

Chloe Gui of Aranex Biotech is using CRISPR to do exactly that. Older genome editing techniques were never exact enough to do this right.

aranex-plantjpgBut there’s a catch. In the six months Aranex has been in existence, the science has gone smoothly but Gui has learned that saying the letters “GMO” to investors can be rough.
Whether or not a crop is labeled as “GMO” depends on the technique used to edit its genome. The system is frustratingly arbitrary, said Gui. If CRISPR enters an organism by hitching a ride with a bacteria the resulting plant will be considered a GMO by the USDA. But using a “gene gun,” which essentially shoots bits of DNA into a plant, doesn’t result in a label.

CRISPR hasn’t been around long enough for the authorities to decide its fate. With the confused state of GMO labeling, Gui says, it’s hard to say whether her work will continue to find funding.

Read full, original post: The Hypoallergenic Peanut Has Arrived Thanks to Genetic Modification

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