Table of Contents:
- Would you drink GM wine?
- A pressing question
- 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?”