Blue Strawberries, Genetically Modified by Fish Genes – Facts Analysis


Story: 

Scientists have come up with a blue strawberry by splicing them with Fish genes!

Other Versions

Scientists are genetically modifying strawberries in order to allow them to resist freezing temperatures better. They’re doing it by artificial transfer of genes from a species of fish called the Arctic Flounder Fish. The Arctic Flounder Fish produces an anti-freeze that allows it to protect himself in freezing waters.

They isolated the gene that produces this anti-freeze and introduced it to the strawberry. The result is a strawberry that looks blue and doesn’t turn to mush or degrade after being placed in the freezer. While they’re not in production, research is ongoing.

Analysis:

The message says that scientists are genetically modifying the Strawberries using special genes from Fish to add anti-freezing properties to them – the result being a Blue Strawberry. It is a fact with some misinformation.

The source of these claims is a related article on Strawberryblu.com, a website platform for social Q&A pertaining to health and nutrition. The article showed a picture of a blue strawberry, which grabbed attention of everyone – for its odd color appearance and that it is genetically modified. However, the picture was NOT real. It is an edited picture taken from a WordPress article that talked about ‘remix’ music; a closer look at the bottom portion of the picture clearly reveals the added/edited traces of color.

The original source of the article appears to be a 2004 scientific study conducted by scientists in Thailand – ‘Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of modified antifreeze protein gene in strawberry‘. An extract from it:

The transfer of genes encoding antifreeze protein (AFP) from antarctic fish (DeVries et al., 1970) is one means of increasing frost resistance. In addition, strawberry fruit is soft and fragile product and has a very short shelf life. Strawberries must be stored at low temperatures for extended shelf life but ice crystals, at freezing temperatures, can severely damage the strawberry fruit. Expression of AFP in strawberry fruit should solve this problem..

Similar studies were also conducted elsewhere, to increase the resistance of Strawberries against viruses, fungi, insects, herbicides, stress, and achieve better quality. In the above experiment, the scientists used pT7blue and pT7blue2 as the Subcloning vectors (a technique used to move a particular gene of interest from a parent vector to a destination vector in order to further study its functionality) to check if their cloning was successful in achieving the desired results in Strawberry. It appears like the scientists never had any intention to develop Blue Colored Strawberries as such, the studies were only meant to improve the resistance of Strawberries through genetic modification techniques. Nor there are any credible news or scientific reports to suggest that Blue Strawberries are in plan for production. Studies like these are common and are mostly meant for research purposes, and not always reach the production stage.

So, like the clarification post of the source website Strawberryblu.com says, it was just an attempt of developing GMO strawberries, and more research is needed on it. As of now, there are no genetically modified Blue Strawberries in market. Nevertheless, GMO foods stand controversial, as Russia suspends American genetically modified corn over Cancer fears in 2012.

Hoax or Fact:

Fact with some misinformation.

References:

So what’s with the Blue Strawberry??
Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of modified antifreeze protein gene in strawberry
Blue Strawberry picture source


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Blue Strawberries, Genetically Modified by Fish Genes – Facts Analysis

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