GMOs often get a bad rap: they are grown with the use of toxic pesticides, which are not only bad for our health but for the environment, too. But sometimes genetically modifying an ingredient can be a positive thing. An example is an Australian study that’s making use of GMOs to try to cure peanut allergies.
Peanuts are one of the eight foods that make up 90 percent of all food allergies (others include milk, eggs and fish). It is also the most common food allergy for children. Avoiding nuts can be one of the most problematic things if you have a nut allergy, though – so many products carry the “may contain nuts” label. A cure for peanut allergies could be such a relief and change the lives of many people who suffer from them.
Tweaking Peanut DNA
Scientists at the University of Western Australia have come up with a really cool idea to try to erase peanut allergies: create an allergy-free peanut. But how? By decoding peanut DNA and adjusting its genes. The bonus is that this could also help to increase the peanut yield for farmers, which would be beneficial in developing nations. In India, for instance, peanuts are a leading economic crop – the country produces about 20 percent of the global amount, but crop productivity is low. This research could therefore improve it.
The use of GMOs would be required for this DNA work, but this does encounter a significant problem. GMOs have become quite controversial in recent years and have even been banned in 38 countries around the world! It could therefore be quite some time until the allergy-free peanut reaches us.
Could Boiling Peanuts Help?
This study is not the first attempt at reducing or eliminating peanut allergies, however. Studies by researcher Dr Billy Tao from Flinders University in Australia found that boiling peanuts could help to reduce their allergic reactions. This is because boiling peanuts for up to 12 hours removes the proteins in them that cause allergies. However, the research is still in its early stages so it’s best not to try it at home just yet!