Ask a few people what they think about genetic modification (GM) and it won’t take long for you to get a negative answer such as it is unnatural, or we don’t know what eating these foods might do to us.
There are some positive uses of the technology such as introducing beta carotene to rice to ensure people in areas where rice is a staple can get beta carotene in their diets. However, the main use of it by pesticide companies (who also sold the seed) to produce foreign genes containing crops that are resistant to pesticides that kill everything else left quite a negative image in many people’s minds.
So will the story be different for “genetic editing”? According to authors of a paper in the Journal Trends in Biotechnology, they hope so. Genetic editing, also known as targeted genetic engineering is exactly what it sounds like, as opposed to GM which involves the random inclusion of foreign genetic material somewhere in the genome using plant bacterium, genetic editing involves using “genetic scissors” to snip out parts of genes or make small tweaks. This can lead to apples that would not brown so quickly when cut or a banana that produces a significantly larger amount of vitamin A than normal.
The authors state that as no foreign material is introduced it could be that the fruit and vegetables produced this way are not even labelled as GM. Let’s see, maybe this technology can finally deliver some of the benefits we were meant to get from GM without the baggage.