Scientists have engineered cotton plants to produce seeds that are missing a poisonous compound that had previously rendered them inedible. With the amount of crop currently planted, such modified cottonseeds could fill the daily protein needs of about 500 million people, the researchers say.
For every kilogram of fiber, commercial cotton plants produce about 1.65 kg of seeds. Though these seeds contain much high-quality protein, "right now, that's being wasted," says plant geneticist Keerti Rathore of Texas A&M University in College Station.
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