Are Seedless Grapes GMO

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Are seedless grapes genetically modified to be seedless?

The short answer is no, seedless grapes have not been genetically modified to be seedless, at least not in regards to the popular use of the term.

The creation of seedless produce, known as parthenocarpy whose literal translation means “virgin fruit”, is accomplished by a few different methods, but none of the processes require the plants be affected at the DNA level where modern genetic modification happens.

As you probably know, producing fruit is the plant’s way of reproducing. Fruit-bearing plants spread their seeds either by dropping their ripe fruits to the ground, where they naturally begin to grow, or by becoming food for the local wildlife, which then excrete the seeds where they grow into new plants (with the help of some fresh manure). The fruit is the ovary of the plant; the mechanism by which the plant has offspring.

Seedless varieties sometimes happen as a mutation in nature. From the perspective of the fruit tree, this is an undesirable mutation since the tree won’t be able to reproduce, but humans who discovered this mutation likely saw it as an advantage. Some of us humans find the seeds to be bothersome and have attempted, and succeeded, in purposely producing these sterile plants, thereby overcoming the nuisance of seeds. Other than seeds being a nuisance, parthenocarpy is also desirable in fruit crops that may be difficult to pollinate or fertilize.

One method used to produce seedless fruits is by withholding the pollination process. Some plants, when unpollinated, still produce fruit, but the fruit will be free of seeds. Some varieties of fruits, particularly some grapes, have been bred to abort their seeds very early in the development of the fruit, so there is no noticeable seed present when it gets to the consumer even though it was there at one time. This is known as stenospermocarpy.

Other methods involve grafting plants on to an existing stock which isn’t genetically compatible. The plant will still grow and produce fruit but it won’t have seeds. In other cases, plants are crossbred to produce plants that don’t produce seeds. All these methods are conventional breeding techniques that have been used for thousands of years and are not a result of the controversial modern genetic modification that involves DNA manipulation.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t, or will never be, seedless fruit that is also genetically modified. But since they’ve managed to create seedless varieties of fruits without the use of genetic modification there doesn’t really seem to be a reason to develop the process through expensive DNA manipulation.

Conclusion:

It does not mean GMO, it a selection process similar to people selecting dog breeds. I wouldn’t consider a dog that is bred to have a shiny coat to be genetically modified, it has been positively selected to breed with other similar dogs to have pups with the same trait.

Genetically modified plants have had their genomic DNA changed by a scientist in a lab. Usually to benefit the company vs the consumer, for example making a plant resistant to insecticide. Which doesn’t benefit us, but the company is able to grow more crops and make a larger profit.

Author:

Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.

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