Genetically modified cotton could help fight against malnutrition

Cotton could be an unlikely ally in the fight against malnutrition, says GlobalData.

Scientists at Texas A&M University have genetically modified cotton so that it can be used as food for human consumption and the end product – which tastes a little like chickpeas – has now been recognized as a food source by the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA's decision means it is allowed as food for people and all types of animals.

Andy Coyne, Food Correspondent at GlobalData, says:

The potential here is enormous. The idea that a crop that has never been part of the human food chain and which can be grown widely can now be seen as a sustainable and protein-rich food source has incredible implications in a world where malnutrition is still rife.”

The research project at Texas A&M has spanned some 25 years but now the edible cottonseed plant – Ultra-Low Gossypol Cottonseed its full name – has been developed and the plan is to manufacture a commercially viable food product within five years.

Coyne adds:

There will be those who are unhappy that once again scientists are genetically modifying what nature has created.

Surely that has to be outweighed by the prospect of helping to create a new protein source in a world ravaged by food shortages.

The researchers at Texas A&M should be proud of what they have achieved and the FDA applauded for taking such a pragmatic view of this potentially life-saving new product.”

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