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  • 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.

  • TheNoCampaign 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.

Here they come: genetically engineered tomatoes.

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轉基因食品的恐懼和第一個試管番茄|復古報道 (GMO Food Fears and the First Test Tube Tomato | Retro Report)

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    韓騏鴻 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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