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Would you drink GM wine?

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  • If a modern-day plague swept across the world's vineyards, would GMOs be an option to stop it?

The world’s wine grape vines are dying — falling domino style to the inexorable spread of bug or bacteria or unknown disease agent.
 
Not true of course — there is no wine grape apocalypse. But what if there were a disease agent sweeping plague-style across the vine world?
 
Mitch Frank has written a razor sharp column at Wine Spectator: How Would You Stop a Vineyard Apocalypse? He references greening disease, the scourge of the citrus industry, and the possibility of genetically modified fruit as a solution. If a GM orange proves viable, how will the public react to GM orange juice on the breakfast table?
 
Frank extends the question to wine. “Would I drink wine from a genetically modified vine? GMOs are controversial, and wine has not been spared. In 2010, activists tore apart an experimental vineyard in Alsace, destroying 70 vines modified to resist fanleaf virus, a widespread affliction in Burgundy and Champagne.”
 
The Alsace incident was the standard storming of a GM field. An over-the-top assault on a fenced GM test plot in which about 60 protestors, under cover of night, destroyed 70 vines planted to withstand grapevine fanleaf virus — of which there is still no cure today. (Ripping up GM crops is standard fare for GM opponents — the latest example took place Aug. 8, as 400 activists took just 15 minutes to uproot 1,000 square meters of Golden rice at a test plot in the Philippines that was weeks away from evaluation. A daily bowl can provide over half of recommended Vitamin A intake. Golden rice, despite offering a potential lifeline to several million children that die or go blind every year from Vitamin A deficiency, has become a crusade for anti-GMO campaigners.)
 
Forget standard GM crops (corn and soybeans) — the GM question is just around the corner for crops that have direct appeal to consumers in the aisle: apples, bananas, lettuce, plums, and more. Frank rolls out the question for grapes: “We don't pick oranges from wild trees or crush grapes from wild vines. We cultivate them. For better or worse, our work has produced corn and oranges and grapes extremely different from what nature would have produced on its own. Would GMO vines be vastly different than the vines we have produced by spending centuries selecting our favorite vines, cutting off branches and propagating them? Man has fundamentally shaped the evolution of the Vitis vinifera we treasure today … What if a GMO vine saved wine from extinction?”

Discuss this Blog Entry 8

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 20, 2013

The gmo controversary is medival thinking. We all benefit from selectve breeding of plants and animals. The place where I agree it can have bad consequences is like some gmo corn that is good as food source but dried kernals cannot be used the next year to start that years crop. Important fact of science is that eating gmo food has zero negative impact on tne gut or the ingesting organism --man or other animals.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 21, 2013

You are drinking GMO wine! The grafted hybrid vines are the definition of genetically modified and they cannot resist disease. Look at the Napa disaster -- how many complete replants in the last three decades?!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 22, 2013

I am certain that any GMO wine would pair magnificently with many corn and soy based dishes.

but seriously...

I would not discriminate based upon GMO status, great wine is my pursuit. The forms of genetic modification which would aid growers in the vineyard would not affect winemakers in the cellar or consumers at the table whatsoever.

The terrorists who destroy valid research as mentioned in the article should be punished severly, I cannot think of a punishment that would be unsuitable for those demented individuals.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 29, 2013

Why not, anything that reduces the amount of chemicals used in the vineyards has to be a benefit. Like others have asked, "Isn't hybridizing genetically modificaation"?

on Sep 5, 2013

The GMO issue has been settled scientifically years ago: The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union: "The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular, GMO's, or no more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies."
http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_re...
Unfortunately, the average person thinks there is controversy where virtually none exists.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 5, 2013

in a word, NO.

What I know about wine, comes from the sale and marketing side. I can tell you with authority, wine sales will cliff if the industry starts playing with this.

GMO wine = sales disaster. No more complicated.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2013

People always have a fear of science. What is concerning is that they're so loud and aggressive. Rational people too often cower to the loudest most vile of this group.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 26, 2013

grafting plants together or splicing seeds is nothing like altering a plants genes.

GMO plants can produce seeds with the same altered DNA (with the benefits or problems). Grafted or spliced plants will create the seeds of one or the other or be infertile. Meaning we have to keep manually re-splicing for the next crop.

With wine vines and other long living plants/trees its practical as they can live for 100+ years.

I personally don't think we need GMO - it only seems to benefit the people who manufacture it and own the seeds that someone else nurtures from the the GMO crops. Yes countries are starving but there is more than enough food to go around if only it was distributed to those who need it and not those that can pay the most for it.

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