Allergy-free peanuts being researched

Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2003 - 6:18pm
Nick's picture
Joined: 11/01/2000 - 09:00

As reported in the Daily Mail (UK) today : all copyrights etc. acknowledged.

The threat of peanut allergy could soon be wiped out by genetic engineering, scientists have revealed. In laboratory tests, they have succeeded in altering the make-up of the peanut so that it no longer triggers a life-threatening reaction.

The "safe" peanuts are part of a new generation of allergy-free food being produced by several international scientific teams. Others being developed include seafood and soya beans, engineered to be less of a risk.

In Britain, the number of children developing potentially fatal allergies to nuts has trebled in the last decade. Almost 1 in every 30 children is now thought to suffer from peanut allergy, which can cause swelling of the tongue, wheezing and difficulty in breathing. In the worst cases, the allergy can be fatal, killing around 10 people in this country each year.

Many experts blame the rise on more women eating peanuts when they are pregnant or breastfeeding, which could sensitise their children. Now, scientists led by Dr. Wesley Burks, at the University of Arkansas, are trying to use genetic engineering to modify specific proteins that give the peanut its allergenicity.

In experiments, they have succeeded in modifying the genes that produce two major peanut proteins so that they are no longer allergenic in lab tests. Several studies are also under way on allergy-free prawns, experts told the American Association for Advancement of Science's annual conference, for which 6000 of the world's leading scientists gathered in Denver, Colorado.

One in 500 people is believed to suffer from an allergic reaction to seafood : usually a rash. In asthma sufferers, they can cause more serious breathing difficulties. Scientists at Tulane University in New Orleans say the allergic reactions are caused by a protein in the shellfish : called tropomyosin.

Research leader, Dr. Samuel Lehrer said : "We have altered the make-up of shrimp to reduce or abolish their ability to be allergenic". Dr. Lehrer said that so far, he has not tasted the allergy-free shrimp. "But I would assume it will be just as delicious as the regular stuff", he said. "With the subtle changes we are making, I would not anticipate any change in flavour".

To create a less allergenic soya bean, another team of scientists removed a protein that accounts for about 65% of the allergenicity. Dr. Elliot Herman, a molecular biologist at the US Department of Agriculture, and the leader of the soya bean project, said : "As far as we can tell, we have removed the allergen and we've made no other changes whatsoever".

Opponents of genetic technology warn that tampering with food crops could damage human health over the long term. But Dr. Lehrer said that extensive safety tests would be carried out before the allergy-free shellfish became available. "It's going to be a few years before you will see this being offered in restaurants", he said.


Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2003 - 11:25pm
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

I wonder, when and if this becomes a long will it take to get rid of the real peanuts? How long will it be before any of us trust the new peanuts?
And given the flap here in USA about genetically altered tomatoes, would anyone (maybe tree huggers) fight the existence of genetically altered peanuts?

Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2003 - 11:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Nick, very interesting stuff, indeed. [img][/img]
Peg541, I'm with you. I echo your sentiments exactly. Personally, I don't think I would ever try one and I don't even have PA. But then again, who knows?
Best wishes! [img][/img]

Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2003 - 11:35pm
Nick's picture
Joined: 11/01/2000 - 09:00

I would fear crop contamination by cross-pollination [img][/img](

Posted on: Mon, 02/17/2003 - 12:42am
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

But, if the genetically altered peanuts make it possible for my son to walk into his college cafeteria with his friends and blithely choose safe foods then I am all for them!
If they make it possible for an accidental ingestion to not kill our kids, who would vote against them?

Posted on: Mon, 02/17/2003 - 4:38am
williamsmummy's picture
Joined: 03/26/2002 - 09:00

dont worry give the new peanuts a few years and we will all be allergic to them!!!

Posted on: Mon, 02/17/2003 - 8:37am
Sue's picture
Joined: 02/13/1999 - 09:00

I wish they would focus on finding out what happened to the "old" peanut. Wonder where they are getting the money for this project?
Sue in Sunny Arizona

Peanut Free and Nut Free Community

Click on one of the categories below to see all topics and discussions.

Latest Discussions

Latest Post by SmilinMo Tue, 06/09/2020 - 11:29am
Comments: 7
Latest Post by MoRich Mon, 06/01/2020 - 10:06am
Comments: 6
Latest Post by Sarah McKenzie Fri, 05/22/2020 - 12:57pm
Comments: 6
Latest Post by JRM20 Wed, 05/20/2020 - 9:30am
Comments: 5
Latest Post by justme Mon, 05/18/2020 - 12:36pm
Comments: 45
Latest Post by krisztina Thu, 02/20/2020 - 4:49pm
Comments: 1
Latest Post by chicken Thu, 02/20/2020 - 4:45pm
Comments: 3
Latest Post by lexy Tue, 01/28/2020 - 12:21am
Comments: 6
Latest Post by JRM20 Sun, 01/26/2020 - 11:15am
Comments: 6

Peanut Free Store

More Articles

Magnesium is a macromineral which is a class of minerals that the human body needs in large amounts. Other macrominerals include calcium,...

Migraines are a truly debilitating neurological condition, with symptom persistence ranging from a few hours to up to three days. According to...

Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA)

An important part of peanut allergy awareness was enacted on January 1, 2006...

Misunderstanding the significance of food allergy test results can lead to unnecessary anxiety and dietary changes. The three tests used most...

It can be easy to overlook the presence of nut allergens in non-food items because the allergens are often listed by their Latin or scientific...

There is no definitive treatment for a peanut allergy. Because every case different, reactions will...

Tree nuts and peanuts are distinctly different. An allergy to one does not guarantee an allergy to the other. Peanuts are considered legumes and...

Soymilk is one of the most popular alternatives to cow’s milk. As well as being rich in fiber, soy is a great source of protein and contains all...

When faced with the task of arranging a gluten-free menu, you might be overwhelmed and confused. Even a search on the Internet can create more...

Only those who have peanut allergies really seem to realize how many things can and often do have...

Peanuts and peanut oil are cheap and easy additives to food and other commercial goods. It is surprising (and alarming if you have a...

Olive oil has many benefits and surprisingly few side effects. It is derived from the olive and is popular with people around the world. The...

You may be surprised to find that peanut butter is used to make many products. Someone who has a peanut...

For those with severe food allergies, flying can be a stressful process. Here are...

Fall Is The Time To Start Feeding Birds

Many people fill their bird feeders in the fall to help out the birds as their natural food...

As anyone who lives with food allergies knows, certain foods can be dangerous, even life-threatening. If you are allergic, you know to avoid the...

Peanuts are loaded with protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals, and most dogs love the peanut flavor. Peanut butter is often an ingredient...

The Smallest Particle of Peanuts Could Cause An Allergic Reaction

Peanut allergy is one of the most dangerous food allergies because it...

For those who don't have experience with peanut allergies, going 'peanut-free' often seems as easy as avoiding peanut butter sandwiches and bags...

Asthma is a respiratory condition that results from spasms in the bronchi of the lungs. It is usually an allergic response to an allergen, and is...