GMO bacteria could help resolve Africa’s plastic pollution ‘menace’

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African scientists are calling for investments in the application of biotechnology to deal with the world’s plastic pollution problem. They are concerned that Africa has not explored the potential of biotechnology to help resolve the menace of plastic pollution and say there is an urgent need for it to be pursued.

Plastic pollution remains a big problem all over the world and particularly in Africa. A lot of plastics are used to convey items from the supermarket, and much of the food packaging is not biodegradable. It’s usually impossible to permanently dispose of these materials after use so they remain in the environment …. often as litter.

“Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be engineered to eat up these unwanted plastic wastes,” said Dr. Nii Korley Kortei, acting head of the department of nutrition and dietetics at University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ghana. “At the Kyoto University, a bacterium (Ideonella sakaiensis), has been discovered to produce a never-seen-before enzyme that can degrade plastics in [a] few weeks.”

Related article:  Viewpoint: 300 scientists say FDA's plan to regulate CRISPR-edited animals as drugs will effectively shut down innovation

In a paper co-authored with Dr. Lydia Quansah of Ghana’s University of Development Studies and titled “Plastic waste management in Ghana,” the scientists noted: “This gene could be isolated and incorporated into fungi or bacteria of choice to salvage this menace through a comprehensive biotechnology programme. We strongly believe Ghanaian scientists can develop an antidote to this problem.”

Read full, original article: African scientists say GMOs could help solve plastic pollution problem

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