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CRISPR Is Going To Revolutionize Our Food System... And Save Bananas

Stashed in: Awesome, food, Bananas!, Botany, Food Industry, CRISPR

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Did you even know bananas needed saving?

The CRISPR technique can also be used to remove allergens in peanuts, or make food more nutritious, all while using genes that naturally occur in the plant.

It might also save the modern banana. The Cavendish banana, the only type of banana sold in most grocery stores—because it is grown around the world as a monoculture crop—is on the verge of extinction because of a fungal disease. While some researchers are racing to test less-common varieties of bananas to try to find an alternative, a Korean researcher hopes to use CRISPR to snip out the receptor that the fungus uses, so it would no longer have an effect.

CRISPR may also keep livestock healthier without relying on antibiotics, which are overused in animals and leading to antibiotic resistance that is killing humans. "You can actually harness CRISPR systems as antimicrobials, and they provide a great alternative to classic antibiotics," says Barrangou. "You can program them to selectively target one or more organisms of interest. Whereas most classical antibiotics are very broad-spectrum—when you consume them they wipe out the good guys and the bad guys indiscriminately—CRISPR is opening new doors for programmable antibiotics whereby you could selectively eradicate a pathogenic species."

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