Japanese scientists have achieved a breakthrough in advancing
towards the next generation of genetically modified rice, which
will fight allergies instead of causing them.
According to report in Live Science, the new transgenic rice
has been designed to fight a common pollen allergy appears safe
in animal studies.
Fumio Takaiwa and colleagues note that the first generation
of genetically-modified crops was designed to help keep crops
free of weeds and bugs. The next generation of transgenic crops
is being developed to directly benefit human health.
This includes vegetables and grains that produce higher levels
of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, or even medicines
Like the first generation of transgenic foods, however, researchers
are anxiously trying to determine whether foods produced from
these "biopharmaceutical" crops will be safe for humans
and the environment.
The rice plant has been genetically engineered to fight allergies
to Japanese cedar pollen, a growing public health problem in
Japan that affects about 20 percent of the population.
In laboratory studies, the researchers fed a steamed version
of the transgenic rice and a non-transgenic version to a group
of monkeys everyday for 26 weeks.
At the end of the study period, the test animals did not show
any health problems, in an initial demonstration that the allergy-fighting
rice may be safe for consumption, according to the researchers.
More research will be needed to bring the rice to market.