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Farmers To Grow Modified Cotton With Its Seed Edible

Many of the world’s roughly 80 cotton-producing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, have populations that face malnutrition that could be addressed with the new plant

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Cotton
An experimental cotton plant is shown at a Texas A&M research facility in this handout image provided by the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in College Station, Texas, U.S. VOA
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U.S. regulators have cleared the way for farmers to grow a cotton plant genetically modified to make the cottonseed edible for people, a protein-packed potential new food source that could be especially useful in cotton-growing countries beset with malnutrition.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Tuesday lifted the regulatory prohibition on cultivation by farmers of the cotton plant, which was developed by Texas A&M University scientists. The plant’s cottonseed cannot be used as food for people or as animal feed yet in the United States because it lacks Food and Drug Administration approval.

Cotton
Cotton plant. pixabay

Cotton is widely grown around the world, with its fiber used to make textiles and the cottonseed used among other things to feed animals such as cattle and sheep that have multiple stomach chambers. Ordinary cottonseed is unfit for humans and many animals to eat because it contains high levels of gossypol, a toxic chemical.

With financial help from a cotton industry group, scientists led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant biotechnologist Keerti Rathore used so-called RNAi, or RNA interference, technology to “silence” a gene, virtually eliminating gossypol from the cottonseed. They left gossypol at natural levels in the rest of the plant because it guards against insects and disease.

“To me, personally, it tastes somewhat like chickpea and it could easily be used to make a tasty hummus,” Rathore said of gossypol-free cottonseed.

After cottonseed oil, which can be used for cooking, is extracted, the remaining high-protein meal from the new cotton plant can find many uses, Rathore said.

Cotton
If all of the cottonseed currently produced worldwide were used for human nutrition, it could meet the daily protein requirements of about 575 million people. Pixabay

It can be turned into flour for use in breads, tortillas and other baked goods and used in protein bars, while whole cottonseed kernels, roasted and salted, can be consumed as a snack or to create a peanut butter type of paste, Rathore added.

If all of the cottonseed currently produced worldwide were used for human nutrition, it could meet the daily protein requirements of about 575 million people, Rathore said.

Other countries would have to give regulatory approval for the new cotton plant to be grown, though U.S. regulatory action often is taken into consideration.

Also Read: Food Cooked on The Barbecue Can Impair Your Lungs

The new cottonseed’s biggest commercial use may be as feed for poultry, swine and farmed aquatic species like fish and shrimp, Rathore said.

Many of the world’s roughly 80 cotton-producing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, have populations that face malnutrition that could be addressed with the new plant, Rathore added. (VOA)

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U.S,Canada Warned About E. Coli Outbreak In Lettuce

The agency said the current outbreak is unrelated to another multistate rash of E. coli infections related to romaine lettuce earlier this year.

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Lettuce, E.Coli
A crew member stands in a pile of discarded romaine lettuce leaves while working near Soledad, Calif., May 3, 2017. A current outbreak of E. coli traced to romaine lettuce has sickened 50 people in the U.S. and Canada. VOA

Public health officials in the United States and Canada on Tuesday warned against eating romaine lettuce while they investigate an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened 50 people in the two countries, including 13 who were hospitalized.

The alerts, issued as millions of Americans plan their Thanksgiving Day menus, covered all forms of romaine, including whole heads, hearts, bags, mixes and Caesar salad.

Officials were uncertain of the source of the tainted lettuce.

E. Coli
A variety of lettuce grows on a floating farm known as a “chinampa” in Xochimilco, Mexico City, July 13, 2017.

“Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said in its food safety alert.

Refrigerator drawers and shelves where romaine lettuce had been stored should be sanitized, the CDC said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which is investigating 18 of the E. coli cases, directed its romaine lettuce alert at consumers in Ontario and Quebec.

In the United States, the CDC said the outbreak affected 32 people in 11 states between Oct. 8 and Oct. 31. No deaths have been reported, it said.

E. Coli
Salad containing lettuce. Pixabay.

Symptoms of the infection often include a moderate fever, severe stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, which is often bloody, the CDC said. Most people get better in five to seven days, but it can be life-threatening, it said.

Also Read: Eastern Congo Suffers From a Deadly Ebola Outbreak

The agency said the current outbreak is unrelated to another multistate rash of E. coli infections related to romaine lettuce earlier this year that left five people dead and sickened nearly 200.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC traced the origin of that contamination to irrigation water in the Yuma, Ariz., growing region. (VOA)