Friday, August 31, 2012

GMO Gloomy Outlook for Health & Allergies

There is a heated race going on, which a few years ago could fit into any science fiction story.

Monsanto and Syngenta are neck-and-neck, rushing to bioengineer as many fruits and vegetables as possible.  Bloomberg reported that Monsanto is "accelerating its push to identify thousands of genetic markers in fruits and vegetables as it brings the tools of biotechnology to conventional breeding."

Markers will enable farmers to select everything from taste to disease-resistant crops. And Monsanto (the world's biggest vegetable-seed producer) plans to develop some of these new varieties in two to four years. 

"Using the markers is like having 'X-ray glasses' that let breeders peer inside a leaf clipping or seed to find what will grow," said Doug Heath, a tomato breeder for Monsanto. 

Monsanto says biotechnology leads to better taste, nutrition and has no health problems. The Organic Consumers Association disagrees, "people can't make the connection between GMO foods and their allergies or other health problems because, without labels on genetically modified foods, there's no traceability."

Syngenta is nipping on Monsanto's heels. It has more than "250,000 genetic markers to help with vegetable breeding, including about 50,000 in melon, 25,000 in tomato and 10,000 in peppers," according to Bloomberg.

Some of Mansanto's food is already coming to market; like a watermelon with flesh like an apple, lettuce that tastes like iceberg but with the nutrition of Romaine, and an onion that's sweet enough to bite into. 

“We’re breeding in a different way now,” Heath said. “It’s so powerful.”  But does powerful mean we should welcome it? 

Other Stories on GMOs

Stories about GMOs have been in the news lately. Here are a few stories if you want to read more about what's happening. 
 What About You?

What do you think about food straight out of a science fiction story? Could there be benefits? Is it something we should fear? 

Leave your comments on the blog.

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