US boffins create GM 'supercarrot'
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US scientists have created a genetically-modified carrot which delivers a much higher dose of calcium than the bog-standard carrot and may help "ward off conditions such as brittle bone disease and osteoporosis", the BBC reports.
The team at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas claims in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that "someone eating the new carrot absorbs 41 per cent more calcium than if they ate the old". This is due to an added gene which "allows the calcium within it to cross more easily over the plant membranes".
The upshot is that people who need a calcium boost but who are advised to avoid dairy products due to allergies or their high fat contents might avail themselves of the "supercarrot", although it wouldn't on its own be able to provide the 1,000mg recommended daily dose.
Accordingly, other veg might be similarly manipulated to further boost intake.
However, the supercarrot won't be coming to a Sunday lunch near you in the immediate future. Team member Professor Kendal Hirschi said: "Much more research needs to be conducted before this would be available to consumers."
The GM vegetable research field is booming, the BBC notes. Boffins are working on a spud with "more starch and less water so that they absorb less oil when fried, producing healthier chips or crisps", while looking at ways to boost broccoli's sulforaphane content - a chemical which "may help people ward off cancer".
Professor Susan Fairweather-Tait of the University of East Anglia concluded that "genetically engineering foods to increase their nutrient content was becoming an increasingly important avenue".
She said: "People are being told to eat more modestly to prevent weight gain, and many diets now no longer contain everything we need. There has been great resistance to genetic engineering, but gradually we are moving away from the spectre of 'Frankenstein food' and starting to appreciate the health benefits it may bring." ®
We at El Reg have a suggestion for the Baylor College of Medicine team: a fluorescent carrot created using jellyfish genetic material which allows those who have not yet availed themselves of carrots' legendary powers to improve night vision to find them in the dark. Oh yes, and we want a fluorescent dog, too. Thanks.
@ organic V's pesticides
Supper bugs in hospitals? I knew that hospital food was bad, but Jesus Christ!
organic V's pesticides
By using pesticides you do not kill all pests, you only kill the weedy little ones. Just like the supper bugs in the hospitals you leave the git hard mega bugs free to bread with one another. Long term this increases your problems as sooner or later the git hard mega bugs will cause famines and pandemics.
The problem with organic farming is that it is not economically viable because of the squeeze capitalist giants have put on the food industry. Organic food would represent a higher percentage of your salary being spent on less food, but considering the rising levels of obesity is that really a bad thing? with all the Land that is unused as there is no financially viable use for it, is it really that we could not grow enough food for a healthy population, or is it that we could not grow enough food for an fat and wasteful population at the price they have become accustom to paying?
Evolution V's GM
Evolution takes place of thousands of years, genetic modifications in one species often require adaptation in others. This is also true of selectively breading animals and plants, it takes thousands of years to end up with chickens and pigs, which have given the rest of the environment thousands of years to adapt to the mutants.
Industrial scale GM developments can take place in a few years, lets suppose that high calcium crops take of in a big way, seeds are planted across the globe and in a hundred years there is 10% more calcium in all vegetation on earth. Anything that starts life in an egg will die in an egg. Birds, insects and reptiles will not have had enough time to evolve to cope with the thicker harder shells that the higher calcium diets produce.