A long history of crop improvements
The process of humans improving the crops we grow is thousands of years old and few, if any, of the fruits and vegetables in grocery stores today look anything like their ancestors. And, while conventional breeding techniques are still frequently used, the science of biotechnology can now often achieve the same goals more quickly, efficiently and precisely.
While the majority of genetically engineered crops to date have been row crops such as corn and soybeans, both consumers and our fellow produce industry members are poised to see significant benefits from biotech-enhanced fruits and vegetables. Ringspot virus resistant Rainbow papaya was developed with the help of biotechnology in the 1990s and saved the Hawaiian papaya industry from devastation, and we know there are many more success stories to come.
GMOs with consumer benefits
In addition to increasingly diverse genetically engineered produce varieties, another exciting trend in GMOs is the “next wave” of biotech crops – those with direct consumer benefits. Agronomic traits have shown great value in decreasing pesticide spraying and increasing yields, yet consumer acceptance of GE foods is just as important to the future success of ag-biotech.
Biotechnology is a complex science, but consumer research has repeatedly found that consumers are more likely to embrace GMOs that offer direct benefits they can experience firsthand.
Value throughout the supply chain
The ability to offer tangible benefits not just to our fellow farmers, but the rest of the supply-chain, especially consumers, is a key reason why we chose nonbrowning apples as our flagship project.
Nonbrowning is accomplished by one targeted alteration – reduced expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO). And, while the approach that allows us to silence PPO production originated through research in grapes, our science team’s expert understanding of apple browning is essential in enabling the successful introduction of the nonbrowning trait that enhances Arctic® apples.