Wheat and Peanuts: Scientists Focus on Food Allergies – DTN

Photo: Clemson University

Gene editing allows scientists to remove individual genes or parts of genes from a plant’s genome quickly and precisely and bring a new crop to market.

Millions of people suffer from food allergies or intolerances, but by tweaking the food’s genetic blueprints, scientists may be able to make some foods safer to consume.

You can learn more about genome editing in agriculture here.

Wheat

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 100 people suffer from Celiac Disease worldwide, and the number of people with it doubles every fifteen years. Those affected are forced to shop for gluten-free products, which can be expensive.

With an abundance of people seeking a gluten-free diet, researchers are finding ways to use gene editing to reduce gluten levels in wheat. Recently, one group of Spanish and American scientists have used a gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9 to develop a number of wheat strains that contain less gluten.

Scientists have hope that they will have a low-gluten form of wheat in the next decade as their gene-edited wheat strains are still in the research phase. With new varieties of wheat being researched and developed, those with Celiac Disease may someday be able to enjoy cereal and pasta.

You can read more about the low-gluten wheat research here.

Peanuts

Peanuts are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals and are full of antioxidants. They are enjoyed by consumers across the globe, but what if millions more people were able to enjoy the health benefits of peanuts?

Nearly three million people suffer from life-threatening peanut allergies, which is why food scientist Hortense Dodo has spent over a decade focusing on producing a hypoallergenic option for peanut lovers. Dodo grew up in West Africa and is now based in North Carolina, where she is working to develop a genetically modified (GM) hypoallergenic peanut through her biotech company, IngateyGen, LLC. Dodo has been working with a number of peanut farmers in the state to ensure that the hypoallergenic crop was comparable to other peanut varieties and in compliance with federal regulations.

Dodo’s GM peanut, which was produced with RNA interference technology (RNAi), is awaiting regulatory approval. She hopes to have the hypoallergenic peanut on store shelves in the next two years.

You can read more about her work on hypoallergenic peanuts here.

Loren Lindler can be reached at loren.lindler@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Loren_Lindler

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