Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More "Green" fear-mongering

I just have to laugh when I read articles like these...
[Winemaker Wants To End The Mystery In A Bottle (KCBS)]

...in which Mr. Coturri expreses his concern that someone... "could go to a lab and order a yeast that gives you a certain aroma, a certain flavor. Anything that you're looking for can be pronounced by a genetically modified yeast”...


“If those yeasts get loose in the vineyards, they're going to be the dominant yeast that's going to overcome the natural yeast”

- but his statements are both wildly presumptive and lack anything in the way of evidence to support them.

First, while there are many different types of yeasts available commercially you can't just get "anything". There are a finite number of yeast strains, and while it takes time to develop new items for the market, one could imagine a time in the future where there are many more strains available - even genetically modified ones.
But that time isn't here yet, so the comment is basically just stirring the emotional "pot" of fear...

Second, there's no proof that any man-made yeasts will automatically dominate and "overcome" the naturally occurring yeast populations (whatever he means by that phrase...he makes it sounds like hand-to-hand combat...) other than by sheer numbers on a localized level.

What Coturri seems to be advocating in this article is the labeling of all ingredients used to make a wine - even if they're innocuous. That's really a different argument than the anti-GM yeast he's espousing above, especially in light of the fact that there are very few GM yeasts even available much less even being used at this time.
In fact, as you read through the article, it becomes apparent that he really wants to turn this into a game of "who's got the shorter list" on their label as a way for him to further differentiate his product from other products on the market. And really it's the same argument that was brought forward by Roger Voss some months ago... [ingredient-labeling-is-there-issue]

I just can't see his comments as anything but hyperbole and smokescreen.


Just the other day I was pointed to this article on awesternheart blog which is worthy of a reading. Some nuggets include these points which dispell some of the fear...

As a result, the new biotech yeast is getting a wary reception in a wine industry that sells itself on its artisan reputation and is anxious not to ruffle export markets touchy about genetically modified foods. Experts also say the new yeast alters the flavor of wine. "As an industry, we're definitely interested in research when it comes to genetic engineering. But I don't think we're prepared to look at genetically modified products yet," said Paul Dolan, a winemaker and chairman of the Wine Institute, the California industry's leading advocacy group.

California wine exports totaled $625 million in 2005, according to the Wine Institute. Six of 10 California winemakers contacted for this story knew of the new yeast, but none said they were using it. Outside the United States, only Moldova, in Eastern Europe, allows its winemakers to use the new yeast. Regulators in several other winemaking countries are reviewing it. The yeast's manufacturer, Lesaffre Yeast Corp. of Milwaukee, did not return calls seeking comment.

Wait - isn't Lesaffre a company started back in 1853 in Northern France? And don't they own both SAF and RED STAR yeast products?
So again we see the French marketing a product HERE that they wouldn't be allowed to use THERE...pretty slick...


Post a Comment

<< Home