It has been reported that wheat is grown to make bread, which reduces the risk of cancer when toasted.
The government has approved trials – the first of its kind in Europe – for wheat that has been genetically modified using a tool called Crisper.
Gene editing involves making accurate changes to the DNA of a particular species.
Many scientists distinguish it from genetic modification (GM) where one type of organism introduces DNA to another.
The grain, run by Rothschild Research in Hertfordshire, has been modified to reduce levels of the naturally occurring amino acid, aspergillus. The Times reports.
When wheat is used to make bread and toast, asparagine is converted to acrylamide.
Acrylamide has been found to cause cancer in mice and is thought to be “probably car-causing” to humans.
Project Leader Professor Nigel Halford explained: “It is found in bread and when bread is toasted, it increases considerably.”
Crisper has been used to make wheat that can be eaten by people with gluten allergies, as well as rice, which produces 30% more grain for each plant.
Many scientists believe that crisper is the key to breeding better crops.
The device has also been used to treat small cell anemia in a small number of human patients.
But there are fears that it could lead to designer children.
It was Chinese scientist Jiankui who revealed in 2018 that he used Crisper to modify the genes of two girls, which was designed to protect children from HIV.
The move was described by some researchers as a “monster”, while many scientists believed the modifications were unnecessary and that the technology was too foolish to use.
A Defra spokesman said: “We have the opportunity to make integrated policy decisions on gene editing based on existing science and evidence.”