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?
Frank’s last question regarding extinction is pressing. He references the phylloxera wine grape battle that was lost and won over 100 years ago in France. Arriving in France via a case of American vines from New York in 1862, phylloxera, a wine grape assassin, was unleashed in France’s vineyards and delivered a wine grape holocaust. The tiny creature bred with freakish speed, disrupting root function and opening the door for a host of secondary fungal pathogens — almost wiping out the French wine industry from 1860-1900. By 1884, growers had been forced to destroy 2.5 million vineyard acres. The end-times tale, filled with champions and charlatans, saw blame and solutions thrown together in a pell-mell panic (divine judgement, urine baths, iron contamination, volcanic ash applications, and scores more).
After decades of building futility, a solution was found: American rootstock, which had escorted phylloxera into France, was resistant to the aphid-like pest. Grafting of U.S. phylloxera-resistant rootstock to French vines put an end to the wine blight. The poison was the cure.
Frank closes with a fitting question: “If a modern-day phylloxera emerged, and nothing else worked, shouldn’t GMOs be an option?”
(See here for Mitch Frank's complete column.)
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