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CSIRO Develops Super Wheat to Combat Bowel Cancer

Scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are developing popular grains with higher levels of resistant starch, a type of starch that can reduce the risk of DNA damage in the colon which can cause bowel cancer. Resistant starch is present in some wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, bananas, and even in cooked pasta, rice and potatoes. Resistant starch is not digested by the small intestine, but it passes to the bowel, where it has positive effects on bowel health.

According to a study published in the latest edition of The Journal of Nutrition, diets high in protein and fat can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer but consuming resistant starch could eliminate the risk.

"What we've been trying to do is to develop grains and cereals which are higher in resistant starch, to essentially increase the range of things in our diet that we consume with pretty high frequency, which are rich in resistant starch," CSIRO researcher Dr. Trevor Lockett.

CSIRO has successfully developed barley with high resistant starch content, BarleyMax, which has been added in commercial cereals. The goal of CSIRO is to increase resistant starch content of commonly eaten grains such as wheat. In one of their studies, they have genetically engineered wheat with higher levels of resistant starch, called amylose.

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This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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