Lab-grown meat can be genetically enhanced with plant nutrients
Researchers from Tufts University have genetically engineered bovine cells to produce lab-grown beef containing beta-carotene, a plant nutrient that is converted into vitamin A in the human body. The researchers suggest lab-grown meats in the future could be nutritionally engineered to convey a broad assortment of health benefits.
Tens of millions of people around the world suffer from vitamin A deficiency. The nutritional shortcoming is a particular problem in children, with up to half a million losing their eyesight every year due to the deficiency.
In the 1990s food scientists genetically engineered a strain of rice by adding several beta-carotene genes. The rice was named "golden rice," and over the past couple of decades it became a flashpoint for debates over the safety of genetically modified food.
To date, only a few countries around the world have approved golden rice for public consumption, but scientists continued to experiment with ways of genetically manipulating fruits and vegetables to amplify their nutritional content. Most recently we have seen preliminary research into "golden potatoes" and "golden bananas."
The researchers from Tufts set out to investigate whether lab-grown meat could be nutritionally enhanced in the same way as golden rice.
Scientists and start-ups may be very close to getting lab-grown meat onto supermarket shelves, however, most research attention in the field has been focused on scaling up production and working out ways to replicate common products such as beef steaks and fried chicken.
"Cows don't have any of the genes for producing beta carotene," explains lead author on ...
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