A recent article published in Wired magazine has highlighted how Monsanto Co. is using its experience with transgenic crops “to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms [GMOs] without any of the Frankenfoods ick factor.” According to author Ben Paynter, the agribusiness company has started investing in its own “novel strains of familiar food crops, invented at Monsanto and endowed by their creators with powers and abilities far beyond what you usually see in the produce section.” To this end, Paynter recounts how Monsanto scientists have extended the shelf-life of lettuce, created sweeter melons and endowed broccoli with three times the usual amount of glucoraphanin using techniques such as genetic marking as well as powerful computer models to accelerate the “good old-fashioned crossbreeding” process.

“Monsanto computer models can actually predict inheritance patterns,
meaning they can tell which desired traits will successfully be passed on,”
explains Paynter. “It’s breeding without breeding, plant sex in silico. In the real
world, the odds of stacking 20 different characteristics into a single plant are
one in 2 trillion. In nature, it can take a millennium. Monsanto can do it in just
a few years.”

At the same time, however, Monsanto has apparently drawn criticism from
some scientists who question “whether these new fruits and vegetables will
be as healthy as their untweaked counterparts.” As pediatric endocrinologist
Robert Lustig reportedly told Paynter, “Nobody has ever tinkered with sugar
levels the way Monsanto is attempting; it’s essentially an experiment.” See
Wired.com, January 21, 2014.

 

Issue 511

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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