WASHINGTON -- Two U.S. Department of Agriculture scientistshave developed a method for removing the marker genes fromgenetically altered plant cells.

Because only one out of 1 million genetically engineered plantcells accepts a new gene, plant geneticists use marker genes tofind these rare cells.

Removing the marker will eliminate the need for regulatoryapproval of their presence in produce and allay public concernabout whether it is safe to consume produce that contain thegenes, said David Ow, a geneticist with the USDA's AgriculturalResearch Service.

The method will allow the biotechnology industry to avoidyears of litigation and advertising to educate the public on thisissue, Ow told BioWorld, "and we think that might speed thepublic acceptance of genetically engineered plants."

The USDA method employs use of the Cre enzyme to cut out or"edit" marker genes from cells that have been altered to conferresistance to antibiotics or herbicides. -- KH

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