If you want to avoid GMOs in your diet, the lab created crops made by combining the DNA of different species, it’s important to either buy organic or to know exactly which crops to avoid.
The Big Five are simple to remember: corn, soybeans, canola, cotton and sugar beets are the five most prominent traditional GMO foods, which are widely cultivated and found in packaged foods in the U.S.
But things are about to start getting far more difficult in the country where GMO labeling is most notably missing (if things don’t change soon, that is), as new, unlabeled GMOs created with the CRISPR technique are being developed at a growing rate of speed.
Already, GMO apples and potatoes created with the CRISPR gene editing technique have hit stores in relatively small quantities (from the brands Arctic Apples and Simplot, respectively).
And now, mushrooms may be next, and the new GMO food created by a Penn State researcher isn’t even required by law to be tested for safety.
Untested GMO Mushroom Wins Award from Mainstream Science Magazine
A new genetically engineered mushroom received a “Best of What’s New” award from ‘Popular Science’ magazine, which was received by Yinong Yang, a professor of plant pathology at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, as noted in this article.
Yang’s creation is a mushroom that will not turn brown, once again benefiting the food industry by giving it a longer shelf life.
The mushroom, a novel new organism that has had some genes turned off through the CRISPR gene editing technique, will escape regulation from the USDA unfortunately, one of 30 GMO foods that have bypassed the USDA regulatory system in the past five years.
To Yang’s credit, he said he plans to submit the mushrooms to the FDA for testing voluntarily in order to allay safety concerns.
But this still does little for the millions of GMO skeptics and supporters of organic food out there who don’t buy the FDA’s safety “assertions” based on industry-approved science, lack of long-term safety testing and history of favoritism toward the Biotech industry.
CRISPR Gene Editing Controversies Continue
While the new CRISPR gene editing technique is becoming more popular among those seeking to “play God” with our food and create novel crops to help the industry make money, other scientists are urging caution.
For example a recent Columbia University study found that CRISPR is capable of creating “hundreds of unintended gene mutations,” although it is not known whether or not this could happen in food.
One of the creators of the technology also recently shared her story of a nightmare she had in which an Adolf Hitler character with a pig face approached her asking excitedly about what she had just invented.
At the end of the day, the jury is still out on CRISPR gene editing technology, but Yang believes his creation will be helpful for the food industry, and that it is more precise because it only utilizes the deletions of a specific gene and not the insertion of foreign DNA as is seen in traditional GMOs.
He hasn’t announced any concrete plans to bring it to market just yet, but the saga of the GMO mushroom is an important one that could have serious implications on the future of food.