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Students coax yeast cells to add vitamins to bread
Date:10/25/2011

ead basket. To find out, the students purchased a bread-making machine, found a simple recipe online and turned their lab into a makeshift kitchen. "We wanted to simulate the process that a regular person might go through to bake bread," said team member Steffi Liu, a junior biomedical engineering major from Edison, N.J. "The only thing that's different in the recipe is that we substituted our vitamin A yeast for the normal dry packaged yeast."

The resulting bread, she said, "looks exactly the same as normal bread. Definitely the same smell! The lab smelled amazing after we baked the bread. Everybody wanted a bite of it. But obviously we can't do that."

Because the lab bread contains a genetically engineered ingredient that has not undergone safety testing or received approval from government regulators, the students are not permitted to eat it. But they are encouraged by the tempting aroma and traditional breadlike texture and appearance.

In recent years, some genetically engineered foods have been rejected by malnourished people merely because they did not look, smell or taste like the familiar food staples. The Johns Hopkins students are banking on greater success, partly because they are thinking small. "VitaYeast is a tiny component it gets killed in the bread," said Noah Young, a senior biomedical engineering major from Irvine, Calif. "We're not genetically modifying the wheat. We're not genetically modifying the flour or the water. We're genetically modifying something like 1 percent of the bread recipe. When you bake VitaYeast bread and you look at it, it looks like normal bread."

As part of the project, team member Ashan Veerakumar, a senior neuroscience major from Toronto, will survey Baltimore area residents about whether they would eat genetically modified food, particularly if it could improve their health. "The thing we're trying to find out here," Ashan said, "is whether our project is something the public will acc
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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

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