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Cooked wheat contains carcinogen. EU’s gene-editing rules block scientists from fixing it

| | December 17, 2018

For nearly 15 years, Professor Nigel Halford has been trying to improve wheat. When wheat is cooked, it forms acrylamide, a carcinogenic chemical …. Professor Halford, a crop scientist at UK non-profit Rothamsted Research, believes wheat is in need of an upgrade and that means reducing the potential for acrylamide to form.

…. CRISPR is a pioneering gene-editing tool which enables scientists to make precise changes to an organism’s DNA. …. In wheat, it’s believed that high levels of acrylamide production can be linked to a specific gene. “We’re trying to knock that out,” says Professor Halford.

However, hopes that gene editing might herald a new dawn in the field of crop science were dealt a blow in July when the European Court of Justice ruled that gene-edited products should be …. subject to stringent regulation that predates the CRISPR technology …. [R]esearchers say the ruling will make it almost impossible for European companies to bring gene-edited foods to market.

Related article:  CRISPR may help pave the way to cross-species organ transplants

EU ruling will hold Europe back from vital food innovation

Professor Halford believes he is close to producing an improved variety of wheat, but this achievement will be tarnished. “We won’t be able to do anything with it,” he says.

In the UK, the fate of gene-edited foods appears to have been decided before most consumers have even heard of the technology. “They won’t get the choice,” Professor Halford laments.

Read full, original article: EU ruling on gene-edited foods is holding us back

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