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Genetically Modifying a Better Cup of Decaf

June 21, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Researchers at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan have produced genetically modified coffee plants they say have as much as 70% less caffeine in their leaves than regular coffee plants. The transgenic plants produced by the team are about a year old but it will take four to five more years before the team knows the amount of caffeine in the bean.

Conventional decaffeination can result in poor flavor. The researchers reported in Thursday's issue of Nature that they used a technique called RNA interference to silence a gene involved in caffeine synthesis.

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