London: Soon eat apples that do not get brown when cut or have super bananas that produce more vitamin A. With genetic engineering, `smart` fruits are coming at a grocery store near you.
According to an Indian-origin researcher, the precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes.
"The simple avoidance of introducing foreign genes makes genetically edited crops more `natural` than transgenic crops obtained by inserting foreign genes," explained Chidananda N. Kanchiswamy from Istituto Agrario San Michele in Italy.
Genetically edited fruits might be met with greater acceptance by society at large than genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so far have been, he added.
For instance, changes to the characteristics of fruit might be made via small genetic tweaks designed to increase or decrease the amounts of natural ingredients that their plant cells already make.
"Genome editing of fruit has become possible today due to the advent of new tools - CRISPR and TALEN - and also because of the extensive and growing knowledge of fruit genomes," Kanchiswamy said.
So far, editing tools have not been applied to the genetic modification of fruit crops.
Most transgenic fruit crop plants have been developed using a plant bacterium to introduce foreign genes, and only papaya has been commercialised in part because of stringent regulation in the European Union (EU).
"Fruit crops are but one example of dozens of possible future applications for genetically edited organisms (GEOs)," Kanchiswamy noted.
That would open the door to the development of crops with superior qualities and perhaps allow their commercialisation even in countries in which GMOs have so far met with harsh criticism and controversy.
Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but "GEOs will surge as a `natural` strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future," researchers added in a paper appeared in the journal Trends in Biotechnology.