• Reading Level 3
Science | Design & Technology | Physical Education | Relationships and health

‘Miracle fruit’ from modern tree of knowledge

Should gene editing be the future of food? A shiny new apple on sale now looks just like other fruit - with an incredible secret in its DNA. Is this the start of a food revolution?  You buy an apple in the shop, take it home and put it in the fridge, where it sits forgotten at the back of the shelf. Twelve months later, you take it out and bite into that year-old fruit. It is crisp, juicy and tastes just as good as the day it was plucked from the tree. Meet the Cosmic Crisp, a new breed of apple now available in UK supermarkets.  "It's an ultra-crisp apple,it has a good balance of sweet and tart and it's very juicy," said Kate Evans, a researcher at Washington State University who helped to develop the breed. Incredibly, the apple also "maintains excellent eating quality in refrigerated storage - easily for 10 to 12 months". Cosmic Crisp is the result of a two-decade-long breeding programme to engineer the perfect apple.  For generations, farmers have carefully bred apples to make them crispier, juicier and sweeter. There are already 7,500 varieties of the fruit across the world. New technology is making it easier for researchers to modify food across all areas of our diet. A tool called CRISPR lets scientists change plant DNA to bring out or deactivate certain genes with incredible precision. Apples are not the only food on the menu.  In Japan, health conscious food lovers can sample the “Sicilian Rouge”, a tomato with high levels of an amino acid thought to lower blood pressure. Researchers at Edinburgh University have created virus-resistant pigs, while other breeding projects include hornless dairy cows and sheep with extra muscle growth.  Scientists say that most gene-edited or genetically modifiedThese are defined as food that has had its genes edited in ways that do not occur naturally. Cosmic Crisp is not genetically modified because it was created by naturally cross-breeding existing species of apple.  foods are considered entirely safe. Some people think that one hundred years from now, our diets could be composed entirely of "perfect" food, with a carefully engineered taste that never rots or goes stale. Should this be the future of food? Food for thought  Yes: We are just doing what we have done for thousands of years: breeding food that has the tastiest, most appealing characteristics. Technology could soon transform the way we eat forever.  No: There is something creepy and unnatural about an apple that never goes bad. Food is not about reaching for scientific perfection, it should be about enjoying what the land gives us naturally. Or…  In the Cosmic Crisp's native USA, more than £130bn of food goes uneaten every year. We should embrace any changes that could help to end this terrible waste of resources.  Key words CRISPR — CRISPR-Cas9 allows scientists to remove, add or alter sections of DNA with ease and simplicity.  DNA — Deoxyribonucleic acid is the material in an organism that carries genetic information.  Amino acid — Amino acids combine to form proteins.  Genetically modified — These are defined as food that has had its genes edited in ways that do not occur naturally. Cosmic Crisp is not genetically modified because it was created by naturally cross-breeding existing species of apple.  Safe — There is no evidence that a crop is dangerous to eat just because it is GM. However, GM foods are subject to close scrutiny as certain genes could potentially have adverse health effects.KeywordsGenetically modified - These are defined as food that has had its genes edited in ways that do not occur naturally. Cosmic Crisp is not genetically modified because it was created by naturally cross-breeding existing species of apple. 

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