Sometimes we write about a little bit more sciency stuff… It is part of food, too. In particular, my mind was captured again by the world of science recently, cause I stumbled over some lists of common GMO foods. Basically, with certain crops, you cannot avoid buying GMO nowhere in the Western world anymore. This may not be bad, of course, after all genetic modification has been acclaimed for saving the papaya in Hawai. Others, like the squash, may do the harm to the environment that GMO foods were always feared for. A 2013 list by the Huffingtion Post, sums up the 7 most common GMO food out there (by the way, did the Huff Post copy-pasted that list from here ??!!). Other lists bring together the bizarre and freaky of that field (see also here) – long live Frankenstein! (human milk-producing cows – yuk!) Also, I like this list as it compiles the most beneficial GMO crops out there – so serious Science in the field can actually contribute to the well-being of mankind (perhaps). Most of the lists are already outdated again, as constantly new varieties (that are not getting introduced into the market but are up for debate) make it into the news. And, many of the praised agricultural advances never ever gain the socio-economic leverage they were supposed to… It’s a bit sad. So, I decided to compile a list of GMO foods and their systematic meaning, too – kinda like a personal note, to come back to them and see what happened with them….
So, my current top 5 list of GMO foods and GMO food initiatives:
5) The Black Tomato –
the infamous tomato variety rich in anti-oxidants supposed to help to cure cancer. So, instead of making a plant directly express the medicine (see here, here and here), you just enrich the natural products in the plant that have not yet been proven (but are suspected) to fight diseases. Why infamous? Shortly after its market introduction, a traditionally derived variety (non-GMO) was presented to the broader public that is richer in anti-oxidants, other healthy secondary metabolites, and in general just ‚blacker‘ (see picture on the right for natural vs left for GMO). Oops.
4) Golden Scallots –
golden scallots are supposedly non-GMO. Why are they on this list than anyway? Well, maybe their story sounds familiar to you: golden scallots are golden because they are soo rich in vitamin A. Scientists created them to fight vitamin A defficiency in Asia and other parts of the world. Yes, you have heard this story before; once upon a time, golden rice was created in order to do this trick. Till today, this first superstar-GMO supposed to rescue menkind has not lived up to the promises made. So, golden scallots are now here to solve the problem. Apparently, it is easier to introduce them into established agricultural and food distribution systems…
3) Lematos –
I am not quite sure if lematos are real (read their story here). Why are they on this list? Cause their innocent names bring the fun back into GMO food, i.e. the positive dreaming associated with it. And, by the way, very weird cross-overs are produced as well by ‚traditional‘ growing methods (see for example here and here) .
2) GMO Hemp –
hemp is an attractive industrial crop cause it is a weed (growth cheaply and sustainably with minimized effort) with all of its parts being utilizable (ranging from food to rope to plastic production). Yet, in some countries (including the US), its agricultural growth is banned, as THC producing varieties could be grown in between non-THC producing crop (of course this is under debate now). The potential of this crop has been estimated so high, that the urban legend spread throughout the internet that Monsanto has already patented (a THC-containing) GMO variety of this herb (on this source, you can even find actual patents being cited). Of course, the interest of big corps in this little market makes small farmers fear that their business may become rippled. Moreover, it is hemp – a plant that is just cult. The myth of the Monsanto patent shows how GMO are still viewed today: non-cool, grey mices that creep out of the labs of big industrial organisations (wild and free hemp in contrast is cult of course). So, a GMO hemp presents a big reputation risk to this crop… anyway – let’s proceed to number 1:
1) Bacon-tasting dulse –
introduced to the public last year, this GMO is just a mind-blow. It‘s development can be explained by assuming that one of its developers just LOVES bacon and doesn‘t want to feel so bad eating it… Dulse is a seaweed traditionally eaten in Ireland and coastal areas of Britain (very healthy). Seaweeds can sometimes taste quite plain if you do not know how to prepare them. This problem is history: dulse tastes like bacon from now on! That makes it somehow a very down-to-earth GMO invention.