07 June 1999
Scientists engineer calorie-free plants

Scientists at the Centre for Plant Breeding and Research in Wageningen in The Netherlands have genetically engineered plants to make natural sugars with practically no calories.

The research holds out the promise of developing a plant that provides sugars that can make non-fattening sweets and cakes.

The scientists have made a sugar beet that can make fructans, sugars which come in long chains of molecules, making it hard for the body to absorb them.The research is also promising low calorie fats or thickeners for use in many products from ice cream and dairy products to paints. A second gene from the artichoke has been engineered which makes the beet produce an even more complicated form of fructan of between 50 and 100 molecules in size.

  • The Times 07/06/99 page 1, page 2