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Monsanto Genetic 'X-Ray Glasses' Speed Tastier Tomatoes

Editor's note: Not content to contaminate most (up to 80%) of the U.S. soy, corn and canola crops, Monsanto and Syngenta are now rushing to bioengineer as many fruits and vegetables as possible. According to this Bloomberg article, 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." Monsanto perpetrates the usual lies, that biotechnology leads to better taste and nutrition. In response to the question of health, the company claims that genetically modified foods have never been linked to health problems. Not true. There's a growing body of scientific evidence that says otherwise. Not to mention that 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. This article should frighten anyone concerned about the future of food. For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and or Millions Against Monsanto page.

Doug Heath, a tomato breeder for Monsanto Co. (MON), offers visitors juicy slices of Cherokee Purple, a delicate variety with a sweetness and acidity he's trying to replicate in hardier commercial fruit.

"We want to see these in the stores more than one month a year," Heath told visitors this month at his research plot in Woodland, California. He gave out the tomato slices at Field Days, an annual gathering for farmers and distributors to see new crops from Monsanto's Seminis vegetable seed unit.

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, giving Heath the ability to select for everything from taste to disease- resistance. It's also allowing the world's biggest (MON) vegetable- seed producer to develop new varieties in two to four years, down from as many as 10 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, Heath said.

His efforts are gathering momentum at the St. Louis-based company, which bought Seminis for $1.4 billion in 2005 and is looking to expand its market share. Monsanto has identified about 5,000 genetic markers in peppers, more than 4,000 in tomatoes and thousands more in melons, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers and beans, according to an Aug. 14 investor presentation. The company plans to identify more vegetable markers this year than in the past 20 years combined.