Human DNA Finds its Way Into Gelatin. How did we miss this story?

Jan 17, 2013 | DNA science

Back in 2011, The Telegraph reported on advances in technology that would potentially allow 300,000 tons of animal-based gelatin currently produced annually (for marshmallows, candies, donut filling, and countless other face-stuffables) to be offset with gelatin derived from human DNA.
A quick Google search on the topic returns a lengthy list of articles and blog posts with shocking (though admittedly interesting) titles such as “Yummy Bears: Gelatin Derived from Human DNA”, “Do you fancy a jelly baby made from human DNA?,” and my personal favorite, “The Jell-O Is Made From People!”

In many ways, these titles are intentionally scary so that you, the DNA/junk food enthusiast, will click to read the article (we almost went with “Bill Cosby to Eat People!” or “So you thought pork-based head cheese was gross…” as the title of this post for the same reason). But, as All Things Now offered back in November 2012: “gelatin derived from human DNA is not made with human tissues in any way. It’s pure chemistry. Regular gelatin? It’s rendered by boiling a mess of animal byproducts like pig skins, cattle bones and entire horses. And people are worried about a few nucleic acids?”
Once we get past the ick factor, the difference between human DNA jelly beans or animal bone marrow jelly beans should be addressed objectively, as Tina Ranieri does in the appropriately titled “Which is better human DNA jelly beans or animal bone marrow jelly beans.” Tina touches specifically on the existing history of human DNA use in various medicines (growth hormones, some vaccines, even insulin used by diabetics every day), current agriculture uses (Golden Rice, which is an herbicide- and pesticide-resistant genetically engineered crop), and the potential for reduced allergic reactions versus animal-based gelatin.
What are your thoughts on the topic? Should we embrace the use of human DNA in gelatin, both for medicinal and food use? Can we get past the ick factor? Head over to our Google+ Page or Facebook Page and leave us a comment.


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