Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are becoming the hottest trend in agriculture, which is becoming more and more like patent medicine (aka Big Pharma) every day. If you can patent it and put it on the market, you can make billions. So it is with drugs, so it’s becoming with foods. Three new GM foods you may not know about are getting close to market readiness right now.
The news about Frankenfish and Enviro-Pigs has made the rounds and hit the mainstream. While these two have been in the limelight, three others are sneaking up through the genetic modification shadows.
Super Chicken Eggs
According to a paper from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida,1 biotechnology is being used to develop genetically modified chickens that produce “super eggs.” These eggs have compounds that can be harvested to fight a range of diseases including diabetes, viruses, and even tooth decay.
Ultimately, the idea behind these super eggs is to create food products that contain the medicines built-in and for consumption. Someday soon, you may see eggs on the shelf that offer “superior tooth decay protection” or “help fight the cold and flu.” Who knows what the ingredients would include?
Non-Browning Apples (Frankenapples)
When you cut an apple, it eventually turns brown. This is unappetizing to the common never-picked-my-own consumer. Can apple pie be tasty if it’s not filled with pristine, white apples? Well, if these genetic modifiers have their way, that won’t be an issue any longer. Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval on a new GMO apple that doesn’t turn brown after being cut open.2
Apparently, apples that don’t brown is a big business opportunity because one of the fastest-growing markets is the “cut apple” market in which pre-sliced apples are sold to consumers. These are usually refrigerated and packaged in nitrogen-filled or vacuum-selaed bags or, as in the case of one company, doused in calcium and ascorbic acid. Restaurants like McDonald’s (the term “restaurant” is used loosely) sell these to consumers as part of “healthy” meal choices on the menu. Imagine if their Frankenapples could stay fresh-looking almost indefinitely?
DNA manipulation is being used to attempt to make hyper-producing plum tomato seeds that increase yields by 50%.3 A team at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has produced a strain of hyper-tomatoes by altering the gene that tells plants how many flowers to generate. They plan to apply the same technique to melons and soybeans.
Nothing like larger quantities of food at the grocery store with even less nutritional value than before thanks to GMO technology!
1 – Designer and Specialty Eggs by Jacqueline Jacob and Richard Miles, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Univ. of Florida
2 – Are You Ready for the Genetically Modified “Frankenapple”? by Eric Steinman, Care2.com
3 – From Superseeds to Mutant Tomatoes by Robin Finn, New York Times