Monsanto Going Organic
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