Monsanto Going Organic

olpea(zone 6 KS)January 29, 2014

The article below was circulated on the Apple-Crop listserv today. Thought it might be interesting to this forum.

The article is long. For those who don't want to read it, basically Monsanto is using it's high tech GMO measuring equipment to selectively breed natural plants (not gene splicing).

The advantage is that through high tech screening, they can start with better germplasm, identify the genes they want, and identify whether the corresponding naturally bred crosses will have the desirable genes without growing out the crosses.

This gives Monsanto a huge advantage in speeding up selective breeding, even though the crossing is done naturally.

Just to illustrate that advantage, Fruit Acres originally planted 8000 peach trees to select the best 11 varieties originally released in their Stellar peaches line. That means they had to grow 8000 trees and graft them to get 11 peaches. Comparatively speaking, Monsanto wouldn't have to grow out and graft anything to get the best cultivars. Furthermore, since they can "pre-screen" their germplasm, the odds are stacked highly in their favor they can get better cultivars than traditional selective breeding.

Opponents can't claim the food is GMO and there is no regulatory process for release because the food is completely natural (as natural as any selective breeding).

This completely changes the paradigm of selective breeding. Technology is moving very rapidly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monsanto is going organic in a quest for the perfect veggie

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

That's great news as they are such an advanced company. The technique though is far from new. Others have been doing this too. You don't have to wait for fruit when you know what the genetic markers mean. I read an article about growing hot peppers using this technique. I also like to grow hot peppers from seed. If I could I would grow 40 or 50 different varieties, but I'm limited to about 5. Same with tomatoes, although I grow at least a dozen every year.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:58PM
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fruitmaven_wiz5(5)

The technology is amazing! But, the article only mentions vegetables, I don't know if they're using it for fruit breeding too.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:49AM
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fabaceae_native

Monsanto obviously recognizes the potential profits in the organic seeds market. This could just mean more of the same though: nasty tasting produce that looks beautiful and ships really well!

In terms of vegetables at least, the diversity of amazing varieties is already there, it just needs to be preserved before being lost. This technology would really be useful for fruit trees though, that take years to grow out and evaluate.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 9:40AM
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JoppaRich(7b)

"This gives Monsanto a huge advantage in speeding up selective breeding, even though the crossing is done naturally."

Basically, a huge misinformation campaign is forcing them to do a ton of extra work to achieve the same results. Which should drive up the price of their seed.

As to good looking veggies/fruit that don't taste like anything, that seems to be what the market wants. It's tough to taste fruit in the store. It's not tough to tell if a fruit doesn't look good. Free market and all.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:42AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Plenty of great tasting vegetable seeds are available, it's amazing! Most are open pollinated so you can save seeds and grow forever! I feel sorry for Monsanto trying to crack that market! they better come up with great tasting varieties else they don't stand a chance! Seems like they have the tools to do just that! I can' wait! More choices is excellent!! Yahoo!
Supermarket produce is getting better because they are well aware that consumers are catching on to artesian food markets and they will try to compete. I hardly buy any fruit or meat at the grocery store. Sam's club has excellent steaks, and great crab legs. So some exceptions Chicken I get from the Amish. It is so much better! Once in awhile I see comparable chicken in the grocery stores. Fruit I get at farmer's markets or fruit stores only. And these places are jammed with people!!

Monsanto has managed to make huge amounts of money. Whatever they are doing the apparently get it.

The technology is there, and certainly can be used for fruit trees, but it takes time to study the genetic makeup of trees
to find useful genes that tell you something. This will happen in the future, good article thanks!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:42PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The same thing is being done with fruit trees. There was an article in Good Fruit Grower July 2013. Name of the program is RosBREED. They listed work on cherry, peach, and apple; members of the Rosaceae family. It remains to be seen whether they can really predict the best progeny ahead of time. Basically it's being done to save money by testing less trees.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 1:02PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

The dark side is coming over? Sounds good to me!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:04PM
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calliope(6)

Just wondered what other sources were thinking on the matter. You might be interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monsanto trying to patent natural foods

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:08PM
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glib(5.5)

I wonder if they could do it for certain permaculture crops. Chestnuts for example, to speed the selection of virus resistant species, and oaks, which have difficult genes for sweetness.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:39PM
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cousinfloyd

Glib, no simple gene has been identified for blight resistance in chestnuts, but the American Chestnut Foundation has sought (and/or is seeking) to genetically modify American chestnuts with Chinese chestnut genes.

As to the overall idea, this method is nothing new. I remember seeing my brother-in-law do this with wheat when I visited him in his lab over ten years ago, and he was just doing pretty normal work for the crop science PhD student he was at the time.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 7:50AM
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