Gene-Edited Mushroom Bypasses GMO Food Crop Rules

Emily Waltz, Nature 2016

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture has ruled that a white button mushroom that was genetically modified using the CRISPR method is not subject to USDA regulations. The white button mushroom, like the Arctic Apple and some genetically modified potatoes, has been tweaked so that it doesn’t brown as quickly when cut and subjected to oxygen.

Produce typically browns when it comes into contact with oxygen because of an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. So, in the case of this white button mushroom, a plant pathologist named Yinong Yang from Penn State University used CRISPR to delete some of the genes that create that enzyme. With the process, he was able to dull the browning enzyme’s work by about 30 percent.”has been modified to resist browning.

The common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) has been modified to resist browning. (Image from Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images)

“The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will not regulate a mushroom genetically modified with the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9.

The long-awaited decision means that the mushroom can be cultivated and sold without passing through the agency’s regulatory process — making it the first CRISPR-edited organism to receive a green light from the US government.

“The research community will be very happy with the news,” says Caixia Gao, a plant biologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology in Beijing, who was not involved in developing the mushroom. “I am confident we’ll see more gene-edited crops falling outside of regulatory authority.”

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