The Genetic Engineering Technology That Needs No Regulation -CRISPR White Button Mushroom

There is a new technology being used for the genetic modification of organisms that the USDA has decided needs no regulation, no testing and no approval before these modified organisms are introduced into our food supply. This new technology involves removing parts of the genetic code of an organism rather than the more dramatic and erratic addition of genes to a genetic code.  The USDA has decided that this new form of genetic engineering is just fine and believes these products are safe for human consumption without any testing what-so-ever.

Introducing the CRISPR Mushroom, coming to stores in your neighborhood soon.  The CRISP Mushroom has been modified to maintain its fresh look by utilizing this new technology to stop it from browning. Hence, giving it a longer shelf life. I just wonder if that is all that it is doing to the final product.crisper-infographic-how2

The CRISPR technology (CRISPR/Cas9 Technique) does not scatter shoot the gene code with bacterium playing host for foreign DNA in hopes of hitting their mark. This technology utilizes an enzyme (Cas9) to cut unwanted traits from the genetic code.

In April of 2016 the USDA informed Yinong Yang, a Penn State researcher who developed this mushroom, that this new technology would not require USDA regulation. The reasoning behind allowing this anti-browning mushroom into the food supply without USDA regulation is vague.  According to Yinong Yang who received the letter from the USDA, “the genome-edited mushroom has small deletions in a specific gene but contains no foreign DNA integration in its genome.  Therefore, the USDA believes that there is no scientifically valid basis to conclude that the CRISPR-edited mushroom is a regulated article based on the definition described in the current regulations.” [1]  To read the complete article click on this link https:\\

produce-isleWhat did they remove from the mushroom to keep it from browning?

The article linked above does not state what was removed from the genetic code of the mushroom to keep it from browning so I did a little research.

In September of 2014, researchers were able to demonstrate that the enzyme responsible for the “browning reaction” that happens during food spoilage is already formed prior to fungal spoiling.   The enzyme is called tyrosinase.  Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme which is present in animals and humans and is essential for the protective pathway against UV radiation.  Simultaneously, tyrosinase, also provides the edification and potential means with which to prevent the spoilage of food.  [2]

Tyrosinase is an oxidase that is the rate-limiting enzyme for controlling the production of melanin. [5]  It is a copper-containing enzyme present in plant and animal tissues that catalyzes the production of melanin and other pigments from tyrosine by oxidation (polyphenal oxadase or PPO) as in the blackening of a peeled or sliced potato exposed to air. [5]  albinoism Tyrosinase contains four atoms of copper per molecule, and binding sites for two aromatic compounds and oxygen. [3]   In humans, mutation in the tyrosinase gene resulting in impaired tyrosinase production leads to albinism, a hereditary disorder that affects one in every 20,000 people.

PPO causes the rapid polymerization of o-quinones to produce black, brown or red pigments (polyphenols) that cause fruit browning. [3]  Polyphenols are micronutrients with antioxidant activity, found abundantly in whole foods such as dried spices, fruits, vegetables, red wine, and cocoa.  They play an important role in preventing and in reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.  Polyphenols also play an important role as a prebiotic which is important for health, weight management and disease prevention. [4]

Poylphenols are phytochemicals and include flavonoids, stilbenes, lignans, and phenolic acids.  mixed-colors-vegis-and-fruitsPolyphenols give fruits, berries, and vegetables their vibrant colors, and contribute to the bitterness, astringency, flavor, aroma, and oxidative stability of the food.  In the plant, they protect against ultraviolet radiation, pathogens, oxidative damage, and harsh climatic conditions. [3]

With all that said, I believe that the researchers at Penn State removed the PPO4 molecule from the genetic code of the mushroom.  Mushrooms are normally considered a good food source for copper but with the removal of this molecule from the genetic code I feel that the copper content will be reduced in these CRISPR mushrooms.  The removal of polyphenols from the mushroom will possibly reduce its antioxidant properties as well as reduce its flavor and aroma.  Will this new mushroom have a different taste or a different nutritional value?  Will this new mushroom brown like normal while cooking it?

No added DNA sounds almost reasonable, but how far will they take this technology?  What happens when a CRISPR mushroom breeds with an organic organism or even worse with some other already genetically altered organism? just-label-it Without any form of regulation, including no labeling, how will we know when these organisms are actually incorporated into our agriculture and into our food supply?

This same CRISPR technology could eventually be used to slow the aging process in humans making for a CRISPR-human race.  Do you agree with the USDA that foods altered with the CRISPR technique should not require testing before being introduced into our food supply?  Do you agree that not labeling these altered organisms is fair for consumers?  Maybe, we should demand that the current regulations be changed to include All GE FOODS regardless of the process used to alter the DNA of said organism.  Chime in with your comments below.

Have an awesome day and thanks for reading my blog.

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