New Genetic Engineering Tool Needs no USDA Approval

New Genetic Engineering Tool Needs no USDA Approval


There is a new genetic engineering technology called CRISPR that will create foods that do not need to be approved by the USDA.  Here is a sciency article about the technology.  The CRISPR technique deletes or edits gene sequences and since there is no foreign DNA introduced, the USDA has decided that they do not need to approve products created with this technology.

One application of this new technology will be to develop a mushroom that doesn’t turn brown.  You can read more about that here.  Regardless of how you feel about genetically modified food, safe or not, there is another issue to consider.  A mushroom that turns brown is a mushroom that is getting old.  As food ages, it loses nutritional value.  That is why fresh is best and also one of the reasons the local food movement is growing.

A mushroom that doesn’t turn brown (or turns more slowly) is an advantage to the producer and grocer because it will have a longer shelf life.  For me, the consumer, it is a disadvantage because I will no longer be able to judge the freshness of mushrooms based on the color, thus I might be buying older, less nutritious food.

These foods may still be subject of FDA authority, but I can’t imagine the FDA saying no.  What can you do?  This may sound like a broken record, but either grow your own or buy from someone you know and ask a lot of questions.

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