Now all fruits and vegetables are coming in hybrid methodology.
Is it good for health?
There is no evidence that hybrid technology as a matter of methodology produces products less safe than nature.
Nature produces hybrid fruits, nuts, and vegetables all the time. That's what bees do. I'd have a hard time believing that there is anything dangerous about hybrids.
Kushy, aside from melons I can't think of any other hybrid fruits (unless you count tomatoes, peppers, etc. as "fruits"). I suppose pluots and apriums, etc. are a kind of hybrid, but that's a very different kind of hybrid than hybrid corn, for example.
Fruitnut, one difference with commercial field and garden crop hybrids (as opposed to what nature produces) is that they're often bred from inbred parent lines. That's not really natural, although in and of itself it I don't find it bad.
In all fairness, the "pure" breeds of crops are the most inbred. Rather by definition a hybrid will have a larger genepool than a purebreed. Just look at dogs for a good example. A purebreed is often rife with genetic damage and abnormalities while a mutt is not.
But its all semantics, really. Everything is a hybrid, depending on how far back you're willing to go.
Corn is not naturally yellow. Carrots are not naturally orange. Wheat is does not naturally form large heads full of seeds. They have all been selectively bred to have the desired traits, and that means hybridization between the ancient lines.
The only difference between today's hybrids and normal lines is that they are selling you the F1 generation for quick profit instead of spending the decade or so needed to stabilize the new look and qualities.
Thanks edymnion, you said it much better than I could but I agree. Every plant is a hybrid if you go back far enough in the genetic record. I don't see it as unsafe at all.
As Edymnion already hinted to above, the main reason some people eschew hybrid seeds is that they have to be purchased each year since saving the seed from hybrids and then growing them out the next year results in a random mix of traits being expressed, not necessarily the uniform ones you chose the hybrid for originally.
There was a long thread on NAFEX some time past where an individual claimed that grafted trees produced a product far inferior to seedlings in terms of health benefits. As far as I could reasonably discern he was a little bit nutty.
He claimed to have left the U.S. because seedling fruit was so hard to come by and now lives in Mexico where he grows a lot of tropical fruit seedlings. Papaya trees are often grown from seed anyway and probably many other fruits of the tropics (help, someone?) although the common ones that are imported here are generally hybrids.
"Everything is a hybrid, depending on how far back you're willing to go."
There is a clear and meaningful distinction between hybrid crops and open-pollinated/heirloom/landrace crops that I think we're missing here. The basic dictionary definition is "the offspring of two animals or plants of different races, breeds, varieties, species, or genera." By that definition any specific hybrid is a dead end (i.e. the next generation will be something new and different.) In other words, once the distinction between the parents in the preceding generation is lost (by mixing), then you no longer have a hybrid.
For example, if you cross breeding line A with breeding line B to get hybrid H, you can't cross one H with another H to get more H. You could, however, cross H with another H and then continue over enough generations until you had a stabilized cross, and then you'd have a new non-hybrid variety.
In the plant world those A and B parent lines of hybrids would normally be inbred (to limit genetic diversity and therefore produce uniformity in the hybrid offspring), but it's entirely possible to breed new non-hybrid (open-pollinated) plant varieties without inbreeding. In that sense, everything isn't a hybrid if you go back far enough.
Instead of comparing a purebred dog (heirloom) to a mutt (hybrid), the better comparison would be to compare a breed that "evolved" from a wide genetic base like Longhorn cattle (heirloom/landrace/o-p) -- I'm sure there are comparable dog breeds, but I don't know dogs so well -- with a Labradoodle, the result of crossing two relatively inbred parent lines, except with plants (like corn, for example) the parent lines are commonly inbred to the point of "inbreeding depression," meaning stunted abnormal, unhealthy growth in the parent lines. The result of crossing those two inbred parents lines, however, is the opposite of inbreeding depression, namely "hybrid vigor."
I'm not trying to make any judgment about plant hybridization, one way or the other, but it's not just semantics.
And it's definitely not true that non-hybrid plant varieties have narrower gene pools than hybrids. Quite the opposite. If you have a crop of hybrid corn every stalk in the field is practically a clone (in terms of genetic variation) of every other stalk/plant (which is achieved by the inbreeding of the parent lines.) That's definitely not true of the open-pollinated (non-hybrid) variety. There will be a lot of genetic variation within non-hybrid crop varieties, and there's the potential within that variation to select for things like special colors, yield, size, etc.
With most fruit, however, it mostly doesn't even make sense to speak in terms of hybrids and non-hybrids. A normal apple, for example, requires pollen from a different apple variety to set fruit and produce seed. I suppose one could theoretically try to develop an open-pollinated apple "landrace" by selecting for particular traits out of a whole orchard of apple trees and growing new trees over generations from seed, but I've never heard of such an apple. (I guess Oikos is thinking along these lines, but I don't think they'd even claim to have developed any real landrace varieties yet. It might take centuries with tree crops.) In any case, it would mostly be impossible to develop inbred parent lines with tree fruits (for producing hybrid offspring), because most trees won't self-pollinate, or they won't produce viable seeds if they do. So comparing trees to garden crops, almost all fruit varieties are clones (not propagated from seed) of what would be comparable to a non-hybrid garden crop variety. In other words, in that sense, basically no fruits are hybrids (although inter-species crosses like apriums would be a different sort of hybrid.)
Well, lemons, limes, grapefruits and calamondin are all hybrids. Lemons are crosses between citrons and sour oranges. Some lemons DO come true from seed, so there you go.....
We've been using lemons for thousands of years now...
Most tree-grown fruits are generally HIGHLY hybridized. The apple being the prime example. Most of the apples we grow have the same five or six parents: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, McIntosh and Cox’s Orange Pippin. They are genetically highly unstable F1 hybrids, thus it is said they do not come true from seed.
Are hybrids less healthy? Inherently, I don't think so. In some cases I'm sure hybridizing results in less healthy food. In other cases, in more healthy food.
For example: an apple could be bred for sweetness or for tartness. The tart apple may be healthier due to higher vitamin C, while the sweeter apple might just contribute 'empty' calories.
Another possibility would be leafy greens bred for decreased oxalic acid, which is a common toxin.
Hybrids can also be bred for packing, transport & shelf life, possibly sacrificing flavor and nutrition along the way - witness the "rubber tomato".
So, I think it really depends on intent.
manfromyard, citrus reproduces in very unique ways. It's possible to get a genetic clone of some citrus from seed. I don't know of any other tree fruit for which that is true, nor any vegetable crop, whether hybrid or not. Perhaps someone else can explain the science behind citrus seeds, but it has nothing to do with the difference between hybrids and non-hybrids. That said, there are some hybrids (inter-species crosses) in the citrus world, similar I suppose to apriums and pluots. Hybrid vegetables/field crops, however, are not -- triticale is the only exception I can think of, and that's rare enough most people haven't ever even heard of it -- inter-species crosses, so they're very different sorts of hybrids.
Yukkuri, when you say that most tree fruits are HIGHLY hybridized what do mean? Do you have a definition in mind? Your suggestion that there are degrees of hybridization seems to imply that you have a unique definition. The fact that apples (as a normal example; citrus being very abnormal) don't come true to seed has nothing to do with hybridization. This is clearly the case because no apple (as with most fruits) will ever come true to seed. Just because a human child isn't a genetic clone of his mother (i.e. the child doesn't come "true to seed") doesn't make the child a "hybrid" in any meaningful sense. The same is true with apples. You've probably heard that apples normally need another variety for a pollinator. Although apples have male (pollen) and female (ovaries) flower parts on the same tree, the tree's female parts generally aren't receptive to its own pollen, thus the need for a second tree, so that tree A can pollinate tree B and vice versa. That's just a natural defense that apples (as a fairly normal example) have against inbreeding, and outcrossing carries biological advantages. The result, however, of pollinating tree A with pollen from tree B is that the seed will be a cross, and in the same way, even though human children may carry certain traits of their parents, each child will be unique (and therefore not "true to seed"), and the same is true with any apple tree you would grow from seed.
Are you refering to GMO foods, rather then "hybrids"?
Pretty much every single food in your produce section is a hybrid. There is some genetic evidence that you yourself are a hybrid of sorts. IF anything, its the monoculture that we use in farming that my be "bad" (which may be what the OP is referencing as well?) One type of banana is produced around the world. All mactinosh apples are all the same as the original etc.. That doesnt mean the food is unhealthy, it would just mean the plants are more seceptable to diseases and sickness (generally speaking).
Harvestman - You refered to someone talking about seed grown trees being better? Did that person mention the name Sepp Holtzer?
CousinFloyd, interesting about the citrus. I would love to learn more about that.
My definition of a hybrid is in contrast to a variety which is open pollinated or a landrace. Both involve sexual reproduction, so children are never clones of their parents but a hybrid is a an unstable cross of widely differing types, while OP or landrace is a stable variety that will not be a clone of parents, but is highly likely to retain most of the characteristics of the parent.
It is possible to create an OP variety from a hybrid by 'growing out' the hybrid seeds for several generations, selecting against the 'off types'. You will end up with a variety that resembles the original hybrid parent, but is stable genetically.
As for apples, there are dozens of self-fruitful or semi-self-fruitful varieties that do not need a cross-pollinator, including Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. Long list at the link below.
Some of the wild apples of khazakistan that have not been intentionally hybridized are more of a landrace and will tend to grow truer to the parent.
Here is a link that might be useful: Self-Fertile Apples
Are the seeds in apples of self-fertile apples that haven't been cross-pollinated viable? Or are there even seeds at all? Some native persimmons, for instance, will produce fruit without cross-pollination, but they won't produce seeds.
Yukkuri, it seems like you're confusing the propagation and reproduction of tree fruits with annual field crops (that are propagated every year from seed.) The contrast you're proposing to make basically doesn't exist in the world of tree fruit. The definition I gave for "hybrid" is word for word from the dictionary, by the way.
Hybrid has a lot of different definitions, it does not only include interspecific crosses, but also crosses between cultivars. Is a hybrid tomato an interspecific cross?
I don't think I'm confused about this.
How the plant is propagated, or whether it is an annual or a perennial tree does determine whether it was originally a hybrid cross or not.
Most commercial apples are hybrids of known varieties, and almost all of them have some red delicious or golden delicious heritage in them.
I don't think there is a self-fruiting apple tree. All the ones I can think of off the top of my head require cross-pollinating (usually you get a bunch of your named varieties with a single crab-apple in the middle).
The seeds should be viable, but you never know what you'll get out of them.
There are self-fruiting apples and reputedly Gravenstein bares seedlings close to parent- although I don't know if this is true. I have read that there are many seedling apple trees in the west that bare the traits of Gravenstein.
Thanks for all for sharing your views and explanations.Now my doubts have been cleared by you all.
The difference between most tree fruits (with some rare exceptions like with citrus which I believe can reproduce from seed without technically pollinating/breeding at all) and annual garden/field crops like tomatoes, is that inbreeding is the natural norm for many garden/field crops (e.g. tomatoes, wheat), and so far as I know all annual garden/field crops can be self-pollinated, although some (e.g. corn, cole crops) can suffer inbreeding depression (but that only seems to give greater potential for hybrid vigor when crossing inbred parent lines.) Fruit trees (which are longer lived and sophisticated in ways that annual crops are not) have natural defenses against inbreeding which guarantees them the biological advantages of outcrossing (either because their female flowers aren't receptive to their own pollen, or because there are all-female trees that require separate male trees.) If you define all crosses as hybrids, then you've basically defined all naturally outcrossing species as all hybrid from the beginning of time. If there's no alternative, what sense is there in defining that as a hybrid? To put it simply, aside from the rare interspecies crosses like apriums there are no examples of hybrid tree fruits, unless you define everything as a hybrid. In any case, there's no distinction. If you think there is, try to give any examples from the same species of fruit tree of hybrid and non-hybrid counterparts.
I think one could easily draw a distinction between GM food of one sort or another and non-GM....
I think there are clearly cases where we just don't know what will happen when a new gene from a Cat or a Cockroach is inserted into a Tomato.... Frequently, it takes a *Really* long time to know anything one way or another - at least in terms of human health.... We typically find out about other weird side effects such as causing sterile seeds or massively weak F2 progeny far before we learn about anything else....
In the short term... My opinion is that we should worry a lot more about declining vitamin and mineral levels in our fruit and produce caused by poorly managed/played out soils and way-too-early picking of produce - causing obesity and other health problems than I do about Hybrid plants and even GMO crops....
On the subject of "Wild/Feral" fruit... I have personally found that while it's fun to experiment... Frequently - you don't really gain anything....
I have a Feral/Dug up peach in my yard that's Small (Golf ball size), Green when ripe, has Really good Rot and Bug resistance.... but it's MASSIVELY bitter and completely inedible until it's literally falling off the tree, soft ripe.... It's currently on the bubble this year - I am going to try cooking with them this year to see if cooking improves them....
I have a seedling American Plum that makes great jelly - but you can't eat it out of hand till it's mushy ripe.....
I am planning on stratifying some seeds from a local street corner feral Peach... It's 5-10 years old.. Gets NO care what-so-ever... and I have never seen either brown rot or PC in them.... but they are small, cling stone, super thick fuzz, HARD as stones, and inedible till fully ripe - at which point, they taste pretty good...
Apples - I basically gave up on "Wild" feral apples - as the ones that don't rot on the trees are frequently so bitter that one bite turns your stomach....
So.. There you go... Does that sound interesting to you?