How Crispr could change the GMO debate with genetically engineered/tailored foods


Lets start with explaining what a GMO is so that one can understand the difference between "Genetically Modified Organisms" and the Crispr Technology that does more of a type of Genetic "Tailoring".

Since there really is not an "official" definition of a GMO because GMO's cover a broad spectrum but if you look up GMO in the dictionary in the area of Culture than you would get this explanation.

"The abbreviation for genetically modified organism. A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there.

Note : A high percentage of food crops, such as corn and soybeans, are genetically modified." (Dictionary.com)

So short explanation "Scientists change these genes by cutting out genes or adding genes to a DNA sequence" [so essentially a gene can be taken "from one species of plant and put that gene into a plant of a different species].(technologyreview.com) Plants made by using this lab technique are called ‘transgenic’ (trans- means across and-genic means related to genes)."

Whether one is Pro-GMO or Con GMO, everyone needs to understand that we have all been eating Genetically Modified Food for years. The corn we buy in the stores now, yes even the organic corn has been seriously modified since Columbus and Menendez came to America.

"Plants and animals become ‘genetically modified’ in nature too. Whenever animals or plants reproduce sexually, the DNA of the parents are combined. Therefore every plant and animal is genetically unique from its parents. Mutations in the DNA sequence occur naturally when cells divide and sometimes these mutations get passed onto offspring. These mutations can create sequences that never before existed in that species."(Asu.edu)

Even in the wild we have hybrid species, this happens during pollination where the DNA of two separate plants or organisms grow together and create a very different outcome that the original two. For instance every time you buy a "Seedless" anything, it has been Genetically Modified, it is a hybrid; did you know that a Grapefruit is a cross between orange and pomelo (http://askabiologist.asu.edu).

Molinaro has pointed out to us that one "could argue that almost all the plants we eat are GMOs. Although the DNA of most types of bananas, tomatoes, and corn were not altered in a lab, their DNA has been highly modified for more than 10,000 years through selective breeding by humans. Humans chose to grow plants they discovered in the wild that had mutations that made the plants tastier or more colorful. Over many generations of breeding these mutant plants, our modern farmed plants look and taste nothing like their wild ancestors."(http://askabiologist.asu.edu).

So back to original intent of this article, Technology Reviews, David Talbot tells us genetically tailored aka "gene-editing method is providing a precise way to modify crops in hopes of making them yield more food and resist drought and disease more effectively. Research in the past year has shown that the resulting plants have no traces of foreign DNA, [unlike their GMO counter parts]"making

One small piece of RNA, CRISPR-Cas9 gives us infinite possibility.

it possible that they will not fall under existing regulations governing genetically modified organisms and will sidestep many of the consumer concerns over these GMOs." (Talbot) This new technology is "CRISPR-Cas9" [and it is] "is pushing GMOs to the side and marching straight for the food system’s main stage."(Bennet) The article also tells us "Three months ago, USDA gave a green light to CRISPR-Cas9 mushrooms, gene-edited to delay browning by tossing out a bit of the DNA sequence. No regulation; no policing; no labels. “CRISPR-Cas9 is certainly one of the most exciting technologies for biotech in the past few decades,” says Rachel Haurwitz, CEO of Caribou Biosciences," Carribou is part of the forefront of the commercial CRISPR-Cas9 applications. “It can be used across so many organisms and sites, and all sorts of research.” (Bennet)

"Most genome editing techniques work by designing proteins to act as molecular scissors to snip DNA at particular targets. A change in the target means a whole new protein must be designed to serve as the scissors. However, CRISPR’s protein is Cas9 and can be used repeatedly. Cas9 only needs a piece of RNA to guide it to the exact target in the genome." (Bennet)

The long and short of it all in laymen's terms, this process is not very unlike the pollination and hybridization that occurs in the wild.

The human benefits are innumerable as well, Cnn's Thom Patterson points out that the Crispr "theoretically,[...][may be able to show benefits that [...] could be nothing short of mind-blowing, including:

• Slowing the aging process and lengthening lives.

• Bringing back extinct species, like the woolly mammoth.

• Feeding the world by tweaking genes in farm crops so they'll grow in more places."(Patterson)

Patterson goes on to tell us this is unlike anything else we have ever seen, "Imagine taking specific genes out of your body to reduce your chances of becoming obese or getting diseases like cancer or Alzheimer's. A medical breakthrough like that would be historic. It would spare millions from pain and suffering. It would save society hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs every year." (Patterson)

Subscribe to Us and don't miss our next post where we will discuss about the Crispr technology which is a "gene-editing technique" and how it could help us as humans biologically, not just in the food we eat.

Dictionary.com "gmo," in The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Source location: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/gmo. Available: http://www.dictionary.com/. Accessed: March 7, 2017.

Molinaro,Jeremiah."What's a GMO?." ASU - Ask A Biologist. 30 Mar 2015. ASU - Ask A Biologist,http://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/whats-gmo Web. 7 Mar 2017.

Bennet, Chris. “Crispr will shape the future of food.” Ag Web, Farm Journal", 13 July 2016, www.agweb.com/article/crispr-will-shape-the-future-of-food-naa-chris-bennett/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.

Talbot, David. "CRISPR offers an easy, exact way to alter genes to create traits such as disease resistance and drought tolerance."

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600765/10-breakthrough-technologies-2016-precise-gene-editing-in-plants/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.

Patterson, Thom. "Unproven medical technique could save countless lives, billions of dollars" Cnn. 30 Oct 2015. "http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/30/health/pioneers-crispr-dna-genome-editing/" Accessed 9 Mar. 2017.