Big news today, as the world reacts to the genetically modifed blue strawberry! In fact, reddit’s hottest post for most of the morning is full of fact(less) comments and fishy information (hahah– I punned!).
In summary: scientists have genetically modified the strawberry plant. They introduced the antifreezing gene from arctic flounder so the plants and fruit can tolerate feezing / rethawing without wilting and then turning to mush. A side effect– the fruit are blue.
“ZOMG! Fishy tasting fruit!” – typical redditor
If you google ‘genetically modified blue strawberry’, you will find a plethora of articles like these:
And that’s part of the problem. With no credible source of information it’s no wonder everyone is overreacting to something that really isn’t that surprising at all: we’ve been directly manipulating the genetics in our food products for about 300 years. In particular, we’ve been mucking about with arctic flounder genes since the 90’s.
In the case of strawberries, our first attempts at cross breeding to produce a more desirable plant happened back in 1714 when the French bred Fragaria chiloensis ( a large fruited South American species) with Fragaria virginiana (a hardy North American variety). While the methods used to do this are nothing like introducing fish DNA into a plant, they kick started a 300 year timeline that allowed our modern methods to evolve.
We’ve been consuming products born from the biotechnology revolution for 30 years now; things like corn, strawberries, potatos, bananas, tobacco, cotton, tomatoes, etc. They were improved to be more drought tolerant, flavourful, disease resistant, etc… and in most cases to produce a more plentiful crop.
Will this strawberry be our undoing? Is it causing cancer? Is biotechnology the precursor to a zombie apocalypse?
Maybe. But until then, we’ll eat well!
No seriously… this is what we do, and we’ve been doing it for 300 years. Deal with it.