While cotton’s history is essentially just one long drawn-out social and environmental nightmare, the fiber might be something of a savior in the near future. According to a recent piece from Vox, US scientists have genetically engineered cotton to make the plant’s seeds safe for us to eat.
“The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service gave researchers at Texas A&M [a] stamp of approval” for their edible cotton, paving the way for the protein-rich seeds to start becoming a viable food source.
As the story noted, the seeds are protein-rich and grown by “nearly 20 million farmers in 80 countries, many with high rates of malnutrition,” so the idea that an already-prolific crop could provide a new form of protein to “more than half a billion people across the world” is a huge deal.
Possible cottonseed applications, according to the story, include milks, and nut butters, as well as energy bars, flours, and protein-enhanced breads. One researcher on the project likened the taste to hummus, in case you were wondering.
While the further proliferation of GE crops is more than a little worrisome, as the story said, “it’s good to see Big Cotton… potentially involved in some humanitarian good.”
You can read more about it at Vox.