GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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 Breeding Aims

Plants with Altered Composition


Most GM plants on the market today are only changed at the production level, e.g. herbicide or pest resistance. Increasingly, new transgenic cultivars are being tested that offer enhanced product quality or valuable new traits, which are aimed at satisfying industrial needs and the desires of everyday consumers.

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"Golden Rice": Enriched with provitamin A
 

New transgenic plants with altered composition offer diverse advantages to industry and consumers. For instance, potatoes with modified starch content and oilseeds designed to replace petroleum products are of great interest to industry. Consumers may benefit from the next generation of transgenic plants, which could offer rice with enhanced levels of iron and vitamin A or cooking oils that could lower the risk of heart disease. Here are some more examples of research projects that are now underway:

Crops for healthier food and feed

  • Modified oil content and composition (e.g. polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid, laureic acid) for maize, soybeans, rapeseed and other oil crops: These modified crops could be important in the fight against cardiovascular disease, obesity, and certain forms of cancer.
  • "Golden rice" – enrichment with carotenoids (provitamin A): This project produced a rice cultivar with enhanced levels of beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which are metabolic precursors of vitamin A. Because rice naturally contains only a negligible amount of beta-carotene, vitamin A deficiency is widespread in regions of the world where rice is a staple food.
  • Higher content of protein or amino acids, or modified amino acid composition for enhanced nutritional value: For example, a GM potato was developed in India containing one third more protein including essential, high quality nutrients. The novel gene came from the protein-rich amaranth plant. Another example is LY038, a maize line with enhanced lysine content for improved animal feed quality. It is now awaiting authorisation in the EU.
  • Gluten-free wheat: Celiac sprue patients cannot tolerate the protein gluten (something similar to an allergy).
  • Higher levels of beneficial antioxidant compounds (e.g. lycopene, flavinols found in tomato) to prevent cardiovascular diseases and certain forms of cancer.
  • Fruits with longer shelf-life: The FlavrSavr® tomato is the most famous example. These tomatoes were the first GM fruit sold in the US and were sold as tomato purée in the UK. Apples, raspberries and melons with delayed ripening have also been developed.
  • Elimination or reduction of undesirable substances like allergens or toxic substances (e.g. caffeine, nicotine).

Crops optimised for industry

  • Rather than a mix of different starches, the transgenic “amylopectin potato” contains almost exclusively amylopectin (an increase from 75 to 98 percent). This starch will be used for paper, textiles and adhesives.
  • GM rapeseed oil with high erucic acid content is used in plastics and in high-grade industrial lubricants.

December 8, 2006 [nach oben springen]

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