Gene-edited salad greens: A bold culinary frontier or recipe for disaster?

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gene-edited-salad-greens(NaturalHealth365)  Gene therapy has been studied in some fashion since the 1990s, but was rapidly brought to the forefront of medicine thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the hasty proliferation of experimental mRNA injections (although fact-checkers like Reuters argue that mRNA shots aren’t truly gene therapy since they allegedly do not alter a person’s genes).  But now it seems that genetic manipulation is on the frontier of other industries, too – including food.

In fact, according to Children’s Health Defense, there will soon be gene-edited salads and other types of produce in grocery stores … and thanks to lack of appropriate labeling, consumers will be none-the-wiser.

Gene-edited salads are hitting the grocery shelves this summer – and consumers can expect even more tinkered-with food from profit-driven companies

“A startup used gene editing to make mustard greens more appetizing to consumers.  Next up: fruits.”  This sentence may read like Newspeak from a dystopian 1984-like world, but it’s actually from a May 2023 article published online by Wired.

The article describes how a North Carolina-based start-up company called Pairwise used the DNA-editing technology known as CRISPR to create a new type of mustard green that has been genetically manipulated to taste less bitter and pungent than the original.  The alleged purpose of this tinkering with nature?  To make the mustard greens taste better raw so that consumers will be more likely to consume them without cooking them, therefore preserving more of their nutrients and serving as a more enticing option than less nutrient-dense alternatives like iceberg lettuce.

Founded in 2017, Pairwise has raised over a whopping $115 million in its quest to put its products on Americans’ dining tables.  Pairwise’s mustard greens are reportedly the first CRISPR-edited food to hit the U.S. market, where it’s expected to make its debut this summer, likely in various restaurants first, followed by grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest.

While celebrated by mainstream media sources like Wired as innovative and pioneering, this genetic manipulation of food is being greeted with great caution by many others, given the lack of a proven safety record.  For example, 2022 research from Boston Children’s Hospital revealed that the use of CRISPR has been shown to increase the risk of large DNA rearrangements in human cell lines – potentially leading to heightened cancer risk.

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Of course, we are also running into the issue of transparency: as pointed out by Children’s Health Defense in a June 7, 2023 article, regulators “don’t consider gene-edited foods to be genetically modified organisms (GMOs), they don’t have to be labeled.”  And indeed, the Center for Food Safety acknowledges that already “tens of millions of American infants, children and adults eat genetically engineered foods without their knowledge.”

Does this mean the typical American consumer has to subject themselves to food experiments without their explicit consent?  Are there moral and ethical considerations here being left unaddressed?

As gene-editing of food, medicine, and more continues at rampant pace, many are left with questions

Is it possible that gene-editing foods will turn out to be perfectly safe?  Will the benefits of these genetically modified foods outweigh the potential harms?  Industry-funded research will give you a resounding yes – but the truth is, there is still a lot to be learned and known about these genetically altered products.

Just consider these potential issues of concern and “unexpected effects” of genetically engineered food, according to the Center for Food Safety:

  • Toxicity
  • Allergic reactions
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Cancer
  • Immune suppression
  • Loss of nutritional value

In discussing these potential health risks, the Center for Food Safety cites example after example of hypocrisy and inconsistency from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including dissenting statements from many of the FDA’s own scientists.

Like many of you, we will be watching these developments closely.  But, for now – more than ever, we see good reasons to start developing your own organic food garden.  In addition, of course, you should avoid the Conscious™ Greens brand of salad greens being sold to U.S. restaurants.

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