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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reportedly approved the use of genetically modified cotton for human consumption.
According to a report by Reuters, the FDA’s decision provides a path for the use of an edible cottonseed, developed by scientists at Texas A&M University, that has a taste similar to chickpeas and that is high in protein. Researchers believe that foods based on this genetically modified cotton seed could help to address malnutrition in countries around the world.
Regular cottonseed contains high levels of gossypol, a chemical whose properties are toxic to humans but not cattle and sheep. However, cottonseed that has been genetically modified using RNA interference technology essentially eliminates gossypol from the seed, making it suitable for human consumption and without adversely affecting the plant fibres used in the making of textiles.
Reuters reports that researchers are currently working with companies to produce a commercially available version of the genetically modified cottonseed, and believe that viable production could begin in as little as five years.
The complete text of the Reuters article on the use of genetically modified cotton as a human food source is available here.