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GM vines


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There was an article in New Scientist back in December on a related topic:

However, winemakers have focused only a little of their attention on modifying the vines themselves. Vines are difficult to engineer and the biological processes that control grape quality are poorly understood.

Instead, it is the other organism involved in winemaking - the yeast - which has been taught new tricks. GM yeast has dazzling potential because many of the "organoleptic" qualities of a wine - its colour, aroma and flavour - are created by chemicals spat out by yeast as it munches its way through the mush of crushed grapes. And the metabolic pathways that produce these chemicals have proved obligingly easy to manipulate.

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Let me guess,

Modified grapes will become the convinient and popular grapes while the naturally grown will turn to be 5 times more expensive [ Organic , Bio-D ....]

What is next big brother ?

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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Jancis Robinson, in her Q & A:

As for GM vines, I can quite see all sorts of useful applications, and my guess is that if and then it gets the go-ahead, it will be for thoroughly positive purposes. It's in the bigger, global agribusiness than I have my doubts about some of the uses to which this technology is being put. As you hint, however, I suspect the wine world is not thinking hard enough about this issue.

GM vines are even tougher to analyze than the standard commodity crops because of the scrutiny we devote to their "organoleptic properties". The problem is that scientists can't be sure exactly what they've done to a modified organism. If they introduce Pierce's disease resistance (obviously desirable), they have no way of knowing what else they might have done too. In terms of wine grapes, a couple of extra (or differently folded) proteins could effect those organoleptic profiles -- not to mention the gazillion other compounds they keep finding in wine that might have some effect on us. (The same is of course true for the yeast). Now, it would be interesting to talk to a plant biologist who could relate the potential magnitude of these effects to that of resistant rootstock grafts, or even clonal selection.

This is why you should kiss your friend. She, and a lot of other people, need to do a lot of work to figure this out, so that when the inevitable happens, we have a better grasp on what we're doing.

Edit: I'll take a bacon tree too!

Edited by badthings (log)
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The USDA Agricultural Research Service is working hard on the glassy-winged sharpshooter, the major vector for Pierce's disease. Their latest plan is to import parasitic wasps from S. America for biocontrol.

Now, as a California resident, do I prefer experiments in importing foreign species, or genetically engineered disease resistance?

Not easy questions.

[i bring this up here because these articles just came out today].

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  • 3 weeks later...
Federal records show 11 current permits for genetically modified grape trials in California. So far, no biotech varieties are grown commercially in the nation.

About three-quarters of the California wine industry endorses gene-level diagnostic work on the fundamental nature of vines and diseases, according to preliminary results of a summer 2003 survey of 4,800 vintners and growers by the American Vineyard Foundation of Napa.

However, the same survey found little consensus about releasing genetically engineered vines into the marketplace, said the foundation's executive director, Patrick Gleeson.

"Some are very supportive: 'This is the wave of the future, we need to be considering all of these issues,' " he said. "Others say, 'Do not go down that path, this is the absolute wrong direction.' "

Sacramento Bee article


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