Should We Gene-Edit Our Fruits and Vegetables? by@saragpinto

Should We Gene-Edit Our Fruits and Vegetables?

The UK government has decided that gene editing is safe to use. Since the technology doesn't involve putting different genes into the plant, this can be considered safer, but we still need to wait on more tests to be sure. So, in this slogging thread, our community discussed the benefits of gene editing, and how it is different from GMOs.
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Sara Pinto

Slogging insights

The issue of GMOs has been on the table for quite some time. Now, we bring another alternative to you: gene editing.

It may not be new around the block, but the benefits we can achieve with this technology have resurfaced. That's one of the subjects we brought to our community to discuss in this slogging thread, along side the difference between GM and GE.

This Slogging thread by Sara Pinto, Jack Boreham, Mónica Freitas and Arthur Tkachenko occurred in slogging's official #technology channel, and has been edited for readability.

Sara PintoMay 24, 2022, 5:04 PM

Should we gene-edit our fruits and vegetables?

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-61537610

Sara PintoMay 24, 2022, 5:04 PM

"Tomatoes that boost the body's vitamin D could be among the first gene-edited crops allowed on sale in England.
Researchers in Norwich created the plants by turning off a specific molecule in their genetic code.
A bill will be introduced on Wednesday to allow commercial growing of gene-edited crops in England."

Sara PintoMay 24, 2022, 5:05 PM

"The technique is currently not used for food production in the UK because of rules set by the EU but Brexit has enabled the UK to set its own rules.
One in six people in the UK are deficient in vitamin D, which is vital to strong bones and muscles and helps reduce risk of cancer.
Prof Cathie Martin, who led the research at the John Innes Centre, said that the development, published in Nature Plants, could be hugely beneficial."

Sara PintoMay 24, 2022, 5:05 PM

"With humans, half an hour in the sunshine every day is enough to make enough vitamin D. But a lot of people don't have that time outside and that's why they need supplements. The tomatoes themselves could provide another source of vitamin D in their diet."

Sara PintoMay 24, 2022, 5:07 PM

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it's a good way of making the products more beneficial to the population? Jack Boreham Limarc Ambalina Mónica Freitas

Jack BorehamMay 25, 2022, 9:06 AM

Definitely! I don't think we should shy away from gm crops. They could save the planet

Mónica FreitasMay 25, 2022, 9:27 AM

Sara Pinto, I get why this initiative is popular - it's directly answering a population's need. The issue with GMOs is that we don't know what effects they might have long term for people. So, it's a bit of a double edge sword - is it good short term, bad long term?

Sara PintoMay 30, 2022, 4:51 PM

Now, this is the curious part. Gene modification is a bit different from gene editing. While GMO adds a section of DNA, in gene editing, they only take out a part of the plant's DNA without adding. Both modify the plant and both are banned in Europe. However, since the technology doesn't involve putting different genes into the plant, this can be considered safer Jack Boreham Mónica Freitas

Mónica FreitasMay 30, 2022, 5:45 PM

Sara Pinto, oh, that's interesting! Maybe that makes it safer, but we still need to wait on more tests to be sure. In this tomatoes initiative, are they adding genes or removing them? Do you know?

Sara PintoMay 31, 2022, 11:09 AM

Mónica Freitas, in this article, they mention the possibility of gene editing, and so far: "The UK government has decided that gene editing is safe to use and is to introduce a bill on Wednesday to allow its commercial development in England. The regulations on GM crops will not be relaxed at this stage."
The UK is taking advantage of not having to follow the European Union regulations, and is considering this technology, which is pretty curious

Mónica FreitasJun 1, 2022, 10:40 AM

Sara Pinto so it's probably more than just removing or adding genes. There's more to it.

Mónica FreitasJun 1, 2022, 10:40 AM

Sara Pinto Let's see where they take this initiative and hope for the best

Sara PintoJun 1, 2022, 3:25 PM

Mónica Freitas, so far, they are only planning on removing, so it's still gene editing. But I am curious to see how it's going to play out

Mónica FreitasJun 2, 2022, 4:54 PM

Sara Pinto I'm most curious about how they're going to advertise and sell this product and what the public reaction will be

Arthur TkachenkoJun 2, 2022, 7:19 PM

Sure we need to do it. we are selecting veggies for thousands of years now. it's just another way to do it much quicker rather than wait for Mother Nature

more seriously, there was a case in some countries, where rice was the main dish for a lot of people, and kids started to get sick because they don't have enough β-Carotene

usually, you can fix it by eating more carrots. But you cant quickly fix this issue. for different reasons. The solution was to mix rice genes so it will have some beta carotene inside...

But local anti-gmo ppl were not happy.

Beta-carotene acts as a pro-vitamin A or anti-cancer compound. Carrots contain the highest amount of beta-carotene of common fruits and vegetables, but each year 25% of carrot production is lost in the U.S. during processing and storage, while, at the same time, the market demand increases.


Plus, imagine two situations. One is a farmer that is trying to select a new veggie with pure luck, without some proper experience, etc.

Or imagine a great lab, full of experienced employees, with PhD, in a clean lab that uses high-tech equipment and using a scientific approach. Which one you'll approve more?

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Arthur TkachenkoJun 2, 2022, 7:21 PM

in our article with Mónica Freitas https://hackernoon.com/chatting-about-gmo we have a similar conversation. the coolest thing is to compare current tomatoes with 100 years old.

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Arthur TkachenkoJun 2, 2022, 7:25 PM

I should also mention that most of the crops at this moment growing, have seeds not from a local granny, but from certified companies that sell them on high prices.

Monsanto
The world's largest seed company, Monsanto, accounts for almost one-quarter (23%) of the global proprietary seed market.

The Monsanto Company (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA/English) was an American https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrochemical and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_biotechnology corporation founded in 1901 and headquartered in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creve_Coeur,_Missouri. Monsanto's best known product is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundup_(herbicide), a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosate-based https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbicide, developed in the 1970s. Later the company became a major producer of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_engineering crops. In 2018, the company ranked 199th on the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortune_500 of the largest United States corporations by revenue.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#cite_note-Fortune_500_Companies_2018-2

Monsanto was one of four groups to introduce genes into plants in 1983,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#cite_note-pbn-3 and was among the first to conduct field trials of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_crops in 1987. It was one of the top 10 US chemical companies until it divested most of its chemical businesses between 1997 and 2002, through a process of mergers and spin-offs that focused the company on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biotechnology. Monsanto was one of the first companies to apply the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_biotechnology#Biotechnology_and_industry business model to agriculture, using techniques developed by biotech drug companies.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#cite_note-4: 2–6  In this business model, companies recoup R&D expenses by exploiting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_patent.

Sara PintoJun 6, 2022, 4:44 PM

Mónica Freitas , I honestly think they will advertise just the same. They might have to put a stamp disclaiming the gene edition though

Sara PintoJun 6, 2022, 4:52 PM

Arthur Tkachenko, I have to agree. It seems only natural to take advantage of the technology we have, if it's considered safe, of course. We have people everywhere that could benefit from these plants that help us get the right amount of nutrients we need. I see why people are concerned about this subject, but I think we should further explore and invest in this.

Sara PintoJun 6, 2022, 4:58 PM

Arthur Tkachenko, it's curious because I think for most people the first instinct is to think that completely natural is the best option. However, especially in food, we start to see it's not the case. I checked our HackerNoon story, and this image is one of the reasons that we definitely couldn't depend on un-altered food

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Mónica FreitasJun 7, 2022, 2:28 PM

Sara Pinto, if they're, they'll miss a good opportunity. They could sell these as magic tomatoes that will get you tanned 😂
In all seriousness, they could sell it as a vitamin D boost food.

Sara PintoJun 7, 2022, 6:04 PM

Mónica Freitas, that's a good point haha. However, I still think many people will be hesitant to buy food altered in such ways, so I don't really know how the public would take this. Do you think your country's population would be open to this?

Mónica FreitasJun 8, 2022, 10:36 AM

Sara Pinto, I've no idea. We're suspicious of anything that's not "natural," but we usually don't even care to check it, so... it's a mess. There would be people that would buy and don't care if it's GMO. I'm just not sure what percentage of the population that'd be.
Right now, the only GMO being authorized for production is corn. So, it's not even a possibility yet to sell GMOs.

Arthur TkachenkoJun 8, 2022, 10:47 AM

let's create a separate thread for vertical farming and growing plants in containers!

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