Sun, Oct 28, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Modified cotton could be human food source after US green light
美國開綠燈 基改棉花可望成為食物

US 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 US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Oct. 16 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 US because it lacks Food and Drug Administration approval.

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 very 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. 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, the scientist 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, he said.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. edible adj.


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

(Reuters)

美國監管當局日前開放農民栽種一種棉花植株,經基因改造後其種子可供人類食用,有潛力成為富含蛋白質的新食物來源,可望對深受國民營養不良所困的種植棉花國家大有用處。

美國農業部動植物健康檢驗局於十月十六日解除法規禁令,允許農夫耕種由德州農工大學科學家所開發的新種棉花。不過,因為該類植株尚未獲得食品藥物管理局核准,棉籽目前還不能用來做為人類或動物的食物。

棉花普遍種植於世界各地,其纖維被用來做成紡織原料,棉籽則具有多種用途,特別是用來餵食牛隻和綿羊等具有多重胃室的動物。一般的棉籽含有高濃度的有毒化學物質「棉酚」,所以不適合人類和許多動物食用。

在某棉花產業集團提供的資金協助下,德州農工大學「AgriLife研究所」的植物生技學家柯爾提‧拉索率領一群科學家,使用所謂的「RNAi」──或稱核醣核酸干擾──技術,誘發基因產生「沉默現象」,幾乎完全消除棉籽中的棉酚。科學家讓棉酚在植株其他部位維持自然濃度,因為該物質能夠抵禦昆蟲與疾病感染。拉索表示,無棉酚的棉籽「對我個人而言,吃起來味道有點像鷹嘴豆,而且很容易就能做成美味的鷹嘴豆泥。」

拉索指出,萃取出可用於烹飪的棉籽油以後,新種棉花植株的高蛋白種子殘渣還有許多用途。這位科學家補充說,殘渣可以做成麵粉,用在麵包、薄餅以及其他烘培商品中,還能做成高蛋白營養棒,而完整的整顆棉籽仁烘烤後再加鹽,就可以當成點心吃,或是做成像是花生醬那類的抹醬。他還說,如果目前世界上生產的所有棉籽都用來提供人類營養,就能夠滿足大約五億七千五百萬人的每日蛋白質需求量。

雖然美國的監管措施經常被拿來做為參考,不過其他國家仍然必須立法核准栽種這種新棉花。拉索指出,新棉籽最大的商業用途可能是做為家禽、豬隻及魚蝦等養殖水產物種的飼料。在全球約八十個生產棉花的國家中,許多國家的人口──特別是在亞洲和非洲──都面臨了營養不良的問題,可望藉由這種新植物獲得解決。

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