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Feb 8, 2012

NTNU (Norway) - Biotechology Can Remove Toxins From Plants, Create Better Canola, Productive Use for Cannabis

On 8 February 2012, GreenBiotech News published an article on how scientists at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU) are working on gene-modifying certain plants to remove their natural toxins so that they can be consumed by humans.  Featured is the work of Atle Bones, professor of biology at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology.

Dr. Atle Bones, professor of biology at the
Norwegian University of Science &Technology

Photo: The Research Council of Norway,
Functional Genomics (FUGE), Heidi Bones
According to Bones' research, humans only eat between 5,000 and 10,000 of the plants and of these, only 100 are significant crops.  Overall, there are an estimated quarter of a million plant species on earth so humans are only consuming a small portion of the types of plants on our planet.  The main reason for this is that these "other" plants may be poisonous to humans or they offer no nutritional values.  If toxins could be removed, this article poses the question whether this would lead to a "food revolution."

Canola and cannabis are two plants cited in the article are research samples.  Canola can be rid of its toxic substances when its oil is carefully pressed in the proper manner.  What if the toxins were removed completely so that all canola flour could be eaten without health concerns?  Authors of the article believe that this would reduce waste and encourage greater production of canola.

Cannabis, one of the fastest growing plants could be gene-modified (GM) to remove its psychoactive chemicals.  This would then produce a plant that is solely suitable for fiber production and is exceptionally well-suited for fast-growth in subtropical and dry climates.  It could be used for rope, textiles, and paper.

Professor Bones and his colleagues are enthusiastic about gene-modification (GM) technologies.  In general, Norway does not support this technology and has limited GM food and crops by imposing trace limitations Bones supports GM technology because he believes that each product "must be assessed in each situation, and like conventionally modified plants, be tested thoroughly before they are approved for production.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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