Drill & thrill, first CRISPR wheat sown in UK

Rothamsted scientist Nigel Halford tweeted this photo on October 26 with the comment: “Great to watch our field trial of CRISPR low asparagine/low acrylamide wheat being drilled today.”

The picture shows the first field trial of CRISPR wheat in Europe. Starting a couple of weeks ago, the trial will run for five years, with plants being sown each October and harvested the following September.

The wheat has been edited to reduce the concentration of asparagine, a naturally occurring amino acid that becomes carcinogenic when converted to acrylamide as bread is baked or toasted. The goal is to produce an ultra-low asparagine non-GM wheat, healthier for consumers and free from the regulatory burden that would come with foreign DNA.

According to Nature Biotechnology, the go-ahead is “a sign of the United Kingdom’s intentions to move away from European Union (EU) restrictions following Brexit.” (Please visit the Rothamsted Research website to learn more)

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