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Experts: Genetic Engineering Improves Papaya and Eggplant

CEBU, Philippines – Scientists today are using genetic engineering to improve the short shelf-life and post-harvest losses of papaya and lessen use of pesticides on eggplants, experts said during a symposium on biotechnology and nutritionally enhanced food crops here.

According to Dr. Evelyn Mae Tecson-Mendoza, research professor of Biochemistry at the Institute of Plant Breeding-University of the Philippines Los Banos (IPB-UPLB), the transgenic papaya or genetically modified papaya by recombinant has now longer shelf-life than the ordinary papaya.

“The papaya usually ripens two days after having a full yellow color and you have to eat it on the second or the third day. Otherwise, it won’t be edible. With this technology, we can delay it from 4 up to 14 days,” elaborated Mendoza.

Delaying the ripening of papaya was made possible through suppressing the production of ethylene. This was done by inhibiting the ACC synthase from synthesizing through the antisense technology, Mendoza said.

Since 1997, Mendoza has been using molecular techniques to solve the problem on post-harvest losses measuring from 30 to 40 percent and the shelf-life of the papaya. But it was only after 10 years that they conducted the first field testing of a homegrown papaya.

Based on the results of the various biochemical testing, Mendoza said the nutritional value of the transgenic papaya is similar to the ordinary papaya noting that both have Vitamin C and antinutrient benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) contents.'

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