Sunday, January 14, 2007

GE Wine

Another new genetically modified food is scheduled to come to market this year: wine made with genetically modified yeast. As with other genetically engineered food, there will be no labeling required on wines that contain gene-altered yeast. The FDA has carried out no studies of its own on the experimental yeast, and yet has approved it as "safe," based completely on data provided by the company selling the product. According to Dr. Joseph Cummins, emeritus genetics Professor at the University of Western Ontario, wine yeasts are unstable, and genetically altering them can lead to unexpected toxicity in the final product. He states that there is no evidence that the developer did any animal feeding studies to test for such toxicity and that there is no proof that the yeast and yeast DNA will not be present in the wine.

To further complicate the problem, since wines containing GM ingredients are not labeled, people wishing to avoid them may have to boycott all US wines - or buy only organic of which there is not a very wide selection (though I like Frey Wines and Well Red which are organic). The other - and more pressing I think - problem is that even if just a few wineries’ choose to use the GM yeast, it could contaminate native and traditional wine yeasts through the air, surface waste and water runoff.

I urge you to contact your local and favorite wineries and urge them not to use GM yeast.

For a good article about this in the Napa Valley Register, go to

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