This is regarding the genetic engineering of apples situation. We do know
that apple flesh is from maternal tissue i.e. is in place before pollination
and as such will not contain inserted genetic material through cross
pollination. However, when the flower on an non-GE tree receives pollen from
a Ge tree, the seeds of the former will contain the gene in question plus
the vectors used. This means in whole fruit testing and in processed product
(juices, baby food etc) it will be easily detected. Also while one of the 2
sperms or nuclei from the pollen fues with the egg to form a seed, the other
one combines with the nuclei from the embryo sac to form the endosperm.
This endosperm produces hormones and plant growth regulators that serve as a
catalyst for the development of the fruit tissue. Based on what we have
heard about unanticipated secondary effects for everything from the
unexpected toxin that showed up in tryptophan to the alteration of the
nutrient components of soybeans, we feel no one can say at this time what
differences there might be in the fruit itself because of the altered GE
endosperm. It ssems to us that it is like changing the engine in your truck
from gas to deisel. The truck would look the same on the outside but there
would be changes in how it functioned henceforth. Some might be obvious and
even for the better. However, there would also be changes that wouldn't
show up for awhile and some of these might not be so benign. It is this
black box that worries us.
The other reason not to proceed with genetically engineering fruit is
market response. Just the knowledge that fruit was from an area where GE
orchards existed would be enough to get at least some buyers to look
elsewhere. This can be the case for conventional as well as organic fruit.
For example, there is a very successful, high end cherry industry locally.
Last year two of the main buyers were Marks and Spence and Tesco in England.
At best, market awareness that GE orchards existed in our area would
necessitate testing. At worst it would mean loss of market share to areas
where the possibility of contamination could not occur.
And for organic growers, as noted before, it would mean decertification
-Linda Edwards, Organic Producers Association of Cawston/Keremeos
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