字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 Here they come: genetically engineered tomatoes. Calgene's Flavr Savr Tomato went on the market today... The first genetically engineered food approved for sale, the tomato stays riper, longer, than the non-engineered variety, and they say it's tastier… It was a hell of a good product! ...they say. A taste that took eight years and $20 million to develop… Sure, I'll be buying these, I like 'em This tomato's every bit as safe as all the tomatoes that we have in the grocery store. But this high-tech tomato has its critics… I think the Food and Drug Administration has put the profits of industry ahead of public health and safety. We will not compromise safety one bit. 20 years later, do we really know enough about what we're doing with the technology? You know, it's just a tomato. In the 1980's, a group of biotech scientists from Davis, California, set out to transform a core American industry. The U.S. market for fresh tomatoes was like $4 billion plus; it was a big market, and it was one where everybody was dissatisfied with the product. The bulk of tomatoes don't taste that good, because they're picked green, and they're induced to ripen artificially. So if you could alter the process by which a tomato softens while its ripening on the vine, and keep it firm enough so that it could survive trucking to market, you'd have a big fresh market tomato business. Calgene was at the forefront of a movement to genetically engineer plants that held great promise for the agricultural industry. We were all very excited. You know, maybe we can have some broad benefit to agriculture by developing a new tool. We had our hands on a gene that was involved in this softening process. When we, and others, invented the technology for turning a gene off, it became clear that what we should do was turn off the gene that makes a tomato get squishy. So the result is that we have a tomato that was picked thirty days ago, that has not been refrigerated, and is as perfect as the day it was picked, when compared to a normal tomato, that's been sitting around, and doesn't look too good. The unusual thing was that it worked. It was a big surprise. Well if you think there's a lot of excitement about the Rolling Stones, wait til you hear this story: you can have a Super Tomato in your very own home. The coverage in the media was, “ooh, look at this crazy, whacky, new thing they're trying." Do they bounce? They probably do. The media loved what we were doing cause it was a different story. I am holding in front of my face a prototype. This is a… tomato! It's like a cute little fruit. How benign, you know? So it was exciting times, nobody knew the rules, nobody knew what the regulatory was. We will ensure that biotech products will receive the same oversight as other products, instead of being hampered by unnecessary regulation. We didn't have to go to the FDA to get this thing approved, but I said, “if we don't, we're just not going to get the public acceptance we want on this.” I mean, our strategy was one of total transparency. We asked questions about the technology from day one, and I didn't have any concerns it. The change in the composition of the food produced through one of these new techniques is insignificant or there's no change at all. But manipulation of nature troubles some. We were concerned that there might be unknown risks associated with these new genetic manipulations. They are underestimating the risks of the technology… We thought this was an important national debate. It may be benign, but it may turn out to be toxic. Our position is better safe than sorry. The opponents of GMOs were a vocal few, but they had little impact on the public's response, when the Flavr Savr Tomato was brought to market in May of 1994. Last week the FDA gave its long-awaited seal of approval to this country's first genetically engineered food. It's a tomato called Flavr Savr… These are the new Calgenes? Yes they are. Oh, great! Mmm. Isn't that wonderful? People loved it, and we sold every tomato that we ever got to market for at least two times the going price of other tomatoes. So the fact that it's genetically engineered doesn't bother you? Oh, not a bit. Calgene's product was well received by the public, and I think that was largely due to having been so transparent about the process. Are they clearly labelled? Yes they are. It was labelled on the cellophane wrapper on the tomato, it had point of purchase brochures explaining how the tomato was genetically engineered, and had a 1-800 number on it. When it comes winter time, when people are searching for that homegrown flavor, now they'll be able to get it. They flew off the shelves here in Davis, the local grocer rationed them. That's a good problem to have, unfortunately we just didn't get enough to market at a reasonable enough cost. They didn't understand agriculture at all, in ways that were actually quite comical. They pick some tomatoes in Mexico, and send them up to Chicago. Truck rolls up, it's dark, it's cold, they open the truck, and realize that the boxes had just fallen all over the place. There was mashed up, broken fruit everywhere. We had to get a lot of the food out by shovel, you know, so, we were in over our head. We were, really, a bunch of gene jockeys, you know, not tomato farmers. From the plant breeding part of it, knowing what kind of varieties would grow in what parts of the country, the handling of the fruit part of it, all kinds of ways. You know, they just fell flat on their faces. I didn't like the whole tomato business, you know. It's a shame we ever had to get into it. I was disappointed that we hadn't made a bigger commercial impact, and after twelve years of doing it, to be honest with you, I was just out of gas. We wound up selling the company to Monsanto. The main reason they acquired us: because we had patents on key technology, and I think in the final analysis, they didn't want an upstart out there who was calling for labelling, when they didn't want labelling at that time. Monsanto denies its opposition to labelling GMO foods played any role in acquiring Calgene. The company eventually shelved the Flavr Savr tomato. Monsanto: producing more. Today, Monsanto makes billions every year by selling seeds for a few staple crops, infused with genes that kill insects and resist weed killers. By 2012, the GMO industry accounted for 93% of America's soybeans, and 88% of corn. Much of which ends up, unlabelled, in processed foods. It's the products that came after Calgene's tomato that decided not to label, and contributed the public's weariness. So the industry, I fell, has let us down. I think the ham handed refusal to label genetically engineered products was one of the reasons that Europe turned against the technology. In the European Union, GMO products must be labelled by law. And in the U.S., that movement has picked up steam in recent years, leading to contentious legislation, and a battle for converts over the airwaves. The “No” Campaign has raised more than $45 million, funded primarily by biotech, chemical, and food industry giants. Americans have the right to know what's in their food, and corporation's don't have the right to hide that information to protect their profits. Unless you convince me that there's some sort of real difference to my health or something, I don't, I've never understood exactly why labelling, you know, mattered that much. If you want to label genetic engineering, then you should also label breeding. Tomato breeders, they move thousands of genes whenever they cross tomatoes. You know, like the original tomato is inedible. It's toxic. And so through breeding over time, they've made it into something that consumers like. Breeder's move many genes, we moved one. I said back in 1990, and I'll still say it today, I'm not aware of a single report documented of 30 years of transgenic plants where a single person has got sick or died from the use of transgenic plants. Many scientists say that genetically engineered foods are safe, and the FDA says they monitor safety through a consultation process with the companies that make them. But some still worry about potential risks, and call for more independent testing. Our gene, we took from a tomato. And then we reinserted it into a tomato. So it was relatively innocuous. There were, at the time, products in the pipeline where bacterial genes were gonna be inserted into corn. And with the first genetically engineered animal – a fast growing salmon – awaiting approval for sale, the science continues to evolve. Today's biotech companies have learned from the Flavr Savr's mistakes: Calgene had pioneered a cutting-edge technology, but applied it in the wrong market. This was a genetically engineered tomato that they were marketing as “offering the consumer a better experience.” That's different from what turned out to be commercially successful. The commercially successful genetically engineered crops were things that farmers might want to plant. More of the products now are a benefit to the farmer, and not the consumer. The consumer doesn't really understand, “why am I getting this engineered food?” Today, there are no genetically engineered tomatoes on store shelves. Instead, most supermarket tomatoes are still grown and harvested for yield more than taste: the way they were before the Flavr Savr was born. It was like a flameout early in the GMO story, and there's been nothing really like it ever since.