Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cotton Candy FutureFood

Scientists have genetically engineered cotton seed to make it safe for human consumption.

Cotton Candy rocks. It's light, sweet, melts in your mouth, and is fun to eat. Real cotton also rocks, it's light, white, you can cut it up, use it to clean---okay, it's not THAT exciting. Regular cotton also contains gossypol, a poisonous chemical that lowers potassium to dangerous levels and can cause fatigue or paralysis. Keerti Rathore at Texas A&M has removed the gossypol from the cotton. The result is a substance that remains is 22% protetin. According to Rathore, the seeds can be roasted and salted.

The New Scientist reports

Rathore says the kernel of the non-toxic cotton seed can be roasted and salted and has a "nutty flavour". He says the kernel can also been ground into a flour and combined with wheat and corn flours to enrich them with protein.

Danny Llewellyn, a plant biologist at CSIRO in Australia who has also been trying to remove gossypol from cottonseed, says the research will "allow cottonseed to be used more widely as an animal feed…and extend its uses as a substitute for other high-value oils, like canola (rapeseed) oil."

Already, unmodified cottonseed is used in limited amounts to feed cattle, because bacteria in their rumen detoxify it. But the modified seed could make cotton plants more valuable to farmers because they could sell the seed as feed for pigs and chickens, or even human food, once they have sold the fibres around the seeds.

"It will certainly be a useful addition to cotton farmers in developing countries who grow cotton as a cash crop," says Llewellyn. China and India are the world's first and third largest cotton producers, respectively.


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