Fruit Logistica program looks to the future - The Packer

Fruit Logistica program looks to the future

01/24/2014 09:49:00 AM
Tom Karst

The workshop summary said the presentation focuses on discoveries in the area of health benefits from fruit and looks at how these may be brought to consumers.

I have recently been exploring the topic of specific health benefits and health claims for fruit and vegetable commodities, so this workshop caught my eye.

For this prediction, the future is almost now. Just this week, I read the headline “Monsanto is going organic in search for the perfect veggie.” Published online Jan. 21 by Wired, the feature looks at the agri-business giant’s vegetable-breeding efforts.

After documenting Monsanto’s modern-day lightning rod status as the biotech bogeyman, this paragraph by Ben Paynter nicely captures the whole gist of the story:

“But here’s the twist: The lettuce, peppers and broccoli — plus a melon and an onion, with a watermelon soon to follow — aren’t genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned cross-breeding, the same tech­nology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia. That doesn’t mean they are low tech, exactly. Stark’s division is drawing on Monsanto’s accumulated scientific know-how to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms without any of the Frankenfoods ick factor.”

The story focuses on executive David Stark and Monsanto’s vegetable business, notably after its acquisition of Seminis in 2005.

Since then, Monsanto has introduced several non-GMO new produce varieties, including:

 

  •  Beneforte broccoli (high levels of glucoraphanin, good for antioxidants);

  •  EverMild onions (reduced levels of the tear-inducing lachrymatory factor);

  •  Melorange melon (a melon that won’t spoil when ripe);

  •  Frescada lettuce (146% more folate, 74% more vitamin C); and

  •  BellaFina peppers (smaller size for greater utility).

 

The takeaway from the Wired piece isn’t that Monsanto hasn’t conquered all its critics — the 89 comments (and rising) as of Jan. 22 show Monsanto still has an image problem — but that the “new Monsanto way” of breeding using genetic markers and traditional cross-breeding may just give the agri-business giant a softer and more appealing image.

And who could have predicted that 10 years ago?

tkarst@thepacker.com

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