View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news


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Flavr Savr: that isn’t fish in your tomato

The first GM food to reach the market was the Flavr Savr tomato, the brain child of Calgene, a small company in Davis, California. The tomatoes had been genetically-modified for a longer shelf-life, and their launch was announced in 1994.

The gene for an enzyme that breaks down pectin was flipped in Flavr Savr. The enzyme causes the fruit to soften and rot, so the flipped gene meant Flavr Savr tomatoes lasted longer than their counterparts. Continue reading


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What agricultural regulation can learn from pharma

Medicine has moved from old wives’ tales to a discipline founded on evidence, but agriculture and conservation haven’t completely caught up. A new paper by Defra’s chief scientific advisor and a collaborator argues that insights from pharmaceutical science can inform pesticide regulation and monitoring.

During the early stages of discovery and testing, pharmaceuticals and pesticides are regulated in a similar way. However, this changes in the later stages of testing and after approval, when pesticide monitoring lags far behind. Continue reading