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Bill Gates Finds It ‘Disappointing’ That People View Non-GMO Foods As Better

Last year, the Pew Research Center found that most people think GMOs are unsafe and unhealthy. Only 10 percent would trust information given to them from the industry, and less than half would trust scientists. So if the public isn’t believing the experts on the subject, maybe they’ll listen to Bill Gates instead.

bill gatesPhoto: World Economic Forum // Wikimedia Commons

The Microsoft mogul called out those against GMOs and genetically engineered foods in a recent Reddit AmA. He doesn’t stay away from non-GMO foods, but did find it “disappointing” that non-GMO is perceived as better.

There is no true reason to be afraid of GMOs, really. Hundreds in the scientific community deem the foods to be safe and beneficial for society. They can help combat disease, relieve world hunger, and give populations fighting malnutrition food that supplies the nutrients missing from their diet. GMOs are instrumental in bringing about a hunger-free future of food, despite what the general public thinks about them.

What’s really been driving the anti-GMO stigma has been fear-mongering from those who may not be fully informed on the subject (and perhaps a little dosage of Russian influence as well). There are many out there trying to replace fear with facts, like Neil deGrasse Tyson and his contributions to the GMO debate documentary Food Evolution. With a name like Bill Gates joining the pro-GMO side, maybe more people will be willing to accept them as a vital part of society.

Then again, we are talking about a population where 30% of people think GMOs don’t have genes, so there’s a whole cloud of misinformation we have to fight through first.

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Pink Pineapples Are Real Now, Here’s How They Get Their Color

At the end of last year, the FDA approved Del Monte’s “pink pineapple” in regards to safety when being consumed and ability to sell in the United States. While nobody had seen one of the pineapples as of yet, pictures have begun to circulate on the Internet recently as test crops of the new pineapple are being grown on plantations of both Dole and Del Monte in Hawaii and Costa Rica.

Everyone knows by now that this pineapple has been genetically modified to obtain its pink color and sweetness, but how that engineering was actually done is a bit of a mystery. Based on Del Monte’s initial patent for what they called the “Rose Gold” pineapple, here’s what’s actually being done to the pineapple to make it pink.

When young, pineapple fruits produce a lot of a pigment called lycopene, which is also responsible for the red color in your tomatoes. As the fruit matures, that lycopene is converted by enzymes, or proteins that cause reactions, that are naturally found within the pineapple into yellow carotenoids that give the fruit the yellow color we’re accustomed to and also add some acidity to its flavor profile.

In this particular variant, Del Monte was able to simply suppress the genes responsible for developing those enzymes and preventing lycopene’s conversion. While it doesn’t fully inhibit conversion, the modification is enough to develop the pink color in the fruit and make the fruit a little sweeter in the process.

🍍 💕#doleplantation #pineappleplant #pinkpineapple #Hawaii #oahu #vacationalliveeverwanted #halakahiki

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Other genetic modifications were also performed in the Rose pineapple. A tangerine gene was spliced in to decrease the levels of another enzyme, bromelain, that makes some people allergic to pineapple. Additionally, a potato gene was added to decrease the flowering of pineapples, thereby increasing the yield of this pink pineapple.

All of these genetic modifications result in a vibrant, safe, and tasty new pineapple that I’m definitely eager to try out. While there’s no timetable for when these will hit markets yet, the pictures of these fruits growing and thriving are a good sign that they’ll be available sooner rather than later.

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FDA Gets $3 Million From Congress To Educate The Public on GMOs

Many of us have seen the above Jimmy Kimmel Live! clip where the show goes around and interviews people on what GMOs (genetically modified organisms) exactly are and why they avoid them in their diet. Those interviewed tend to not even know what GMO stands for, indicating a lack of education on the subject that the U.S. government finally has decided to address.

In the latest appropriations bill passed by Congress, three million dollars were included for a joint campaign between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for “consumer outreach and education” regarding biotechnology and genetically engineered foods. The campaign hopes to exemplify “the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts” of GMO foods.

The funding comes after an open letter from over 50 major food industry and agriculture groups asking the government to fund an effort to rebuff the “tremendous amount of misinformation about agricultural biotechnology in the public domain.” With the majority of scientists in agreement that GMO foods are healthy and safe – in some cases, even safer than non-GMO foods – to consume, 39 percent of the public still believe that GMO foods pose some sort of health risk.

It’s still unclear as to whether such a campaign would prove to be successful, however. A report last year showed that most Americans are informed about GMOs and their benefits, yet 76 percent would still rather not eat them.

Nonetheless, the departments have the money to go forward with this campaign if they wish. No timetable or launch date has been announced yet, but if they’re looking for ideas for a starting point, we got them covered.