Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Something Old, Something New

S. Stabinger / Wikimedia Commons

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

Do genetically modified foods freak you out?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

GM crops are a hot button issue today, with nicknames like Frankenfoods. They can contain genes from entirely different organisms. That makes some people nervous. But what if we rescued old traits instead of adding new ones?

Danish researchers are suggesting we restore genes that have been bred out of our crops. Traditional breeding techniques are full of trade-offs. You want higher yields? You may lose some flavor in the process. Corn once produced a healthy fat called oleic acid, which was inadvertently bred out. What if we could put that ability back?

It's called reverse breeding, or rewilding. It transfers genes into plants from undomesticated relatives that still have those genes. The Swiss have done it with Gala apples, to make them as resistant to a fungus as their wild cousins. The hope? To make plants more resistant to drought, bugs, disease or other conditions. But in a less freakish way.

Just think: The perfect party favor for your hipster friends – retro foods! And Sun Tea. Yum!