30 Apr 2016

Gene-edited foods

From This Way Up, 12:50 pm on 30 April 2016

A white button mushroom that won't brown as quickly as conventional fungi (when kept in the fridge) could become the first gene-edited food to go on sale in the US.

white button mushrooms

Photo: Public Domain

The button mushroom's genes were edited using CRISPR-Cas9  – a molecular cut-and-paste technology that is revolutionising the world of genetic science and challenging existing GMO regulations around the world.

The US Department of Agriculture has said it will not stop these mushrooms being grown commercially as no genetic material was added, so technically it has not been genetically modified. Yet the mushrooms could still be banned by the US Envronmental Protection Agency or the US Food and Drug Administration.

The decision has re-ignited the debate about the regulation, ethical implications and health impacts of genetically modified food. Governments around the world are grappling with how to regulate gene editing technology as it becomes more readily available. You can now buy gene editing kits online for under US$100 and a growing band of DIY geneticists and biohackers are trying it out themselves at home.

Kristen V. Brown has been looking at these recent developments for Fusion.net.

She talks with Simon Morton: