QIt seems that all advances have been in improving qualities like storage and disease resistance, but is there any work being done to improve the taste?

It seems that all advances have been in improving qualities like storage and disease resistance, but is there any work being done to improve the taste?

AExpert Answer

We are learning a lot about the genes associated with sensory quality, and genetic engineering is likely a great way to rapidly re-introduce them to fruits and vegetables.  Where did they go?  Over the past 50 years plant breeding prioritized production traits, meaning fruit size, yield, disease resistance and shipping quality.  Flavors and aromas were simply graded as acceptable or not. 

 

Today we can use marker assisted breeding to bring back those flavors without genetic engineering.  That's being done all over the world.   The process is slow, especially in tree crops.

 

While we can make some predictions about how genetic engineering could help the process, deregulation is long and expensive, so it is not an attractive option.  Most industries would not be willing to foot that bill, especially in light of unknown consumer acceptance. 

 

For now, we're stuck with traditional breeding for enhanced flavors and aromas.  If we can get more people to consume improved varieties, it will help our farmers and the general health of our nation and planet.  

Posted on January 31, 2018
Thank you for your question. There are various aspects of your question. I assume your question refers to the use of Agrobacterium rhizogenes by scientists to intentionally transfer genes from the bacterium to plants. Infection and DNA transfer from this bacterium occurs in nature all the time to cause disease. Such transformed plants are not classified as GMOs since transfer occurred naturally. If this is done by scientists then it would be classified as a GMO. Rules and... Read More
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Posted on March 1, 2018
I’m a Monsanto scientist who has more than 20 years of experience with genetic modification of plants. I will try to answer your question, even though I don’t ever do experiments on animals, certainly not on humans, of course! Can humans be genetically modified…but a much bigger question is should humans be genetically modified? There are two ways to think about genetic modification of humans (or any animal). One way is modification of somatic cells, and the other is the... Read More
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Posted on May 10, 2017
The simple answer is that 20+ years of composition assessments of GMO crops have demonstrated that crop composition is not appreciably affected by the GM process (1). In addition, data collected through that time have indicated that general factors such as the growth environment can contribute to notable variation in component levels (2). Plant agglutinins (or lectins) and amylase inhibitors are examples of anti-nutritional compounds that may be present in crops. The relevance of such a... Read More

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