Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CRISPR--Gene Modification

Technology Review has an article on gene editing, which I've posted about earlier.  The idea of removing genetic material from a genome is less frightening than the idea of incorporating genes from one species into the genes of another.
For now, the techniques are being used to modify plants in more modest ways. “The first wave of this technology is just removing a few base pairs,” says Yinong Yang, a professor of plant pathology at Penn State University, referring to the combinations of DNA letters—A, G, C, and T—that make up a genome. By “knocking out” just the right gene, as researchers did with the potato, it’s possible to give a plant a few valuable properties.[The potato modification is intended to increase storage life of russet potatoes.]
The article goes on to mention another permutation--using this new technology to transfer a preferred genetic trait from one variety of a plant to another, the example used is a drought-resistant trait.  Again I don't see such modifications as raising the concerns that GMO opponents usually raise.

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