Monsanto, the genetically modified organisms (GMO) giant, is apparently turning a new leaf by giving up its Frankenfoodology (dicing and splicing plant genes) and going back to good old crossbreeding. Remember the revolutionary cross-grafting technology that gave India its Green Revolution? Meet power-packed broccoli and no-more-tears onions.
Sweeter, Crunchier and more nutritious
That is what US-based food and seed corporation Monsanto promises with its new and exclusive line of premium vegetables. And what is more, they lack the genetic skullduggery that has turned consumers off its genetically modified staples such as corn and tomatoes.
Unlike anything it has done before, Monsanto is using traditional crossbreeding techniques after identifying plants with desirable traits. Then, after a trial and error process, only those plants are picked and grown that show the mixed desirable traits of both varieties. Brainchild of the Global Trade Division at Monsanto, these marketable vegetables are packed with the goodness of one variety and the good looks of the other. Introducing:
Power-packed Broccoli: Beneforté broccoli contains three times more anti-oxidant-releasing glucoraphanin. Developed by breeding traditional broccoli with a strain growing wild in Southern Italy. Priced at US $2.50 per pound.
Perfect Serving Peppers: BellaFina peppers are one third the size of regular bell peppers, aimed at reducing leftovers and wastage. Created through selective breeding with smaller and smaller peppers. Priced at US $1.50 per three-pepper bag.
Sweet Melons: Melorange, sweeter than cantaloupe grown in winter. Created by crossbreeding cantaloupe and European heritage melons. Priced at US$3 per melon.
No-more-tears Onions: EverMild is a variety of mild and sweet onions. Selective breeding of plants with lower levels of pyruvate, which affects pungency. Priced at US $0.70 to $2 per pound.
Fresh forever lettuce: Frescada, with a longer shelf life and more folate and Vitamin C. Created by crossing iceberg lettuce with romaine lettuce. Priced at US $2.25 to $2.50 per pound.
Image makeover? A really bright idea? Or just maybe good sense prevailed? You choose. Our bet is that this move towards traditional technology has a lot to do with the drop in sales of the GMO produce. Monsanto has always naysayed the lack of scientific evidence regarding the health effects of genetically modified food grains and vegetables, but consumers have been slow to bite. Hence, the Trade Division had the bright idea of a Catalogue of Crossbred Wonder Veggies. Smell the money, yet? Let us face it, high-fashion vegetables at premium prices are really not going to salvage world hunger, are they?