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Today: Jun 12, 2024
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University discovers federal funded technology revolutionizing future food supply: ‘Target genes found’.

1 min read

TLDR:

  • The University of Hawai’i at Manoa has received $149,000 from the government to research the potential of CRISPR technology in expanding the shelf life of various foods.
  • The grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will fund workshops and courses led by assistant professor Zhi-an “Rock” Du.
  • The hope is that this research could make Hawaii’s food exports more resilient to pollution and prolong their shelf life.

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa has been granted $149,000 by the government to research the potential of CRISPR technology in expanding the shelf life of various foods. The research is led by assistant professor Zhi-an “Rock” Du from the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, who will utilize the grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to provide workshops and courses on the applications of CRISPR. This technology can be used by scientists to alter the DNA of living organisms to enhance their characteristics.

Professor Du described CRISPR as a “Google map” that helps find target genes in complex chromosomes. This technology allows for easy modification, editing, and improvement of products. The aim of the research is to make Hawaii’s food exports more resilient to the effects of human-caused pollution and to extend their shelf life.

CRISPR technology has already been used by food scientists worldwide to create genetically modified crops, such as tomatoes that can grow in space and “cow-free dairy.” It offers a way to produce crops more efficiently, with less land disruption and reduced use of excessive fertilizers. CRISPR differs from traditional GMO crops because it splices together genes from the same species, mitigating some of the concerns associated with genetically modified foods.

The university hopes that by teaching and practicing CRISPR technology, students can be better prepared for the growing popularity of this gene-altering technology. As the field of CRISPR technology develops, the university aims to learn and adapt alongside it. Graduate student Julia Yuson highlighted that joining the CRISPR workshop does not require a significant science background, as the basics will be taught.