Consumers won’t know it, but the oil served at particular Midwestern restaurants is a soybean oil, Calyno, that has been produced using gene editing techniques.
The soybean oil is being used in salad dressing and for frying—in the restaurant chain and food service industry—and is claimed to have no trans fats and longer shelf life.
Is the oil considered a genetically modified food? Not according to U.S. regulators, who have declared 20 crops derived from gene editing technology (CRISPR/Cas, TALEN) not subject to regulation or special oversight, as GMOs are. These products will be exempt from carrying the new “bioengineered” label that the USDA has created for GMOs.
Calyxt, which manufactures the oil, also says the soybeans used to produce the oil are not genetically engineered. Supporters of gene editing say the process could happen naturally, as in traditional crossbreeding—although scientists and health advocates fundamentally disagree that they are the same.
Non-profit groups such as Friends of the Earth, ETC Group, and the Non-GMO Project say gene editing is genetic engineering and that products made using gene editing should be regulated as GMOs.
The National Organic Standards Board has recommended that foods produced from gene editing cannot qualify as organic. In the EU, gene-edited products must go through the same regulation process as GMOs.
Calyxt’s gene edited soybeans are being processed at Iowa-based companies American Natural Processors and KemX Global; both companies process non-GMO soybeans though the gene edited soybeans will be processed in separate facilities.
Tom Adams, CEO of biotech company Pairwise, said oversight of gene-edited foods could become stricter if public attitudes change.
Sources: Chicago Sun-Times, Olive Oil Times
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