Genetic Clarification

Last month, Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. announced a collaboration with Monsanto Company, focused on creating variations of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach that are “more attractive” to consumers. Besides producing sexier broccoli, the goal is to improve nutritional value, flavor, color, texture, aroma and shelf life.

Last month, Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. announced a collaboration with Monsanto Company, focused on creating variations of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach that are “more attractive” to consumers.

Besides producing sexier broccoli, the goal is to improve nutritional value, flavor, color, texture, aroma and shelf life.

Due to Monsanto’s heavy involvement with biotech agricultural methods, many who heard this news were skeptical that this partnership might result in genetically modified vegetables. However, the Monsanto spokeswoman was careful to stress that these variant vegetables will NOT be genetically modified like the company’s corn seed and soybean products.

What was not carefully stressed, however, was how, if not through genetic modification, is Dole going to create enhanced vegetables? The article briefly mentioned “plant breeding,” which is the process of working with a species of plant to create desired characteristics. In fact, the glossary on Monsanto Company website specifically states, “This process involves either controlled pollination, genetic engineering, or both, followed by artificial selection of progeny.”

This does not clarify very much for me. I’d imagine that this ambiguity must also be cause for concern for those consumers who support Dole specifically for its organic program, which claims to be at the “forefront of organic agriculture,” offering organic bananas and pineapples.

What do you think? Email me your opinions at karen.langhauser@advantagemedia.com

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