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Europe Deals A Blow To CRISPR Technology, U.S. Approves 'Bleeding' Veggie Burger

"Last week was a momentous one for the future of genetically engineered foods, both in the U.S. and in Europe. On July 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Impossible Burger, an all-veggie burger that 'bleed' and sizzles just like meat. The burger's star ingredient — a protein called heme that renders blood red and helps make meat a carnivore's delight — was granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. In 2015, the FDA had required that the $400 million Silicon Valley startup, Impossible Foods, demonstrate that their heme, made by genetically modified yeast, was safe."

"But across the pond, two days later, Europe's highest court issued a very different decision: it ruled that in Europe, gene-edited crops should be subject to the same strict regulations the continent uses for genetically modified (GM) organisms. It was a major setback for advocates of genetically engineered crops."

"Predictable reactions followed. While Impossible Foods celebrated its approval, an environmental advocacy organization Friends of the Earth (FOE) called the FDA ruling tremendously disappointing. Dana Perls, senior food and agriculture campaigner for FOE, says the ruling 'is exactly why we need an overhaul of our regulations with the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and the FDA.' Meanwhile, Nigel Halford, a crop geneticist at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, UK, told Nature News that the European ruling was 'a real hit to the head,' noting that companies in Europe will not be willing to invest in a technology with no commercial application."


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