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Coffee with Less Caffeine on Horizon

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PHILADELPHIA, Jun 19, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Natural coffee with 70 percent less caffeine is being developed by Japanese scientists, a report said Thursday.

By altering the genes of the coffee plant, the researchers have found they can reduce the caffeine content but they caution it will take a few more years before they have a product ready to market, the Philadelphia Inquirer said.

Researcher Hiroshi Sano and his colleagues did nothing to alter the plant's DNA, he said. Instead, they focused on a related substance, called messenger RNA, which carries out the DNA recipe.

Currently, coffee beans go through a punishing ordeal to remove their caffeine. They are soaked in solvents or scraped in machines, losing not only their caffeine, but many of the compounds that make coffee smell and taste good.

Decaffeinated coffee accounts for about 20 percent of the sales of coffee in the United States.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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