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Feeding the Planet

September 2, 2017

Genetically engineered microalgae could become an important food of the future, and scientists at UC San Diego have taken a step closer to that reality with an outdoor field trial approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The scientists inserted two genes into the algae — one a fluorescent protein to make the tiny organisms visible and a second to change their fatty acid profile. The field trial showed that the genetically modified algae can be successfully cultivated outdoors without damaging the native algae populations that produce much of the oxygen on earth. The researchers hope algae, which can be grown on non-arable land with nothing but sunlight, air and water, can help meet the ever-increasing demand for food and alleviate the risk of famine.

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