Biotech Updates

Scientists: GM Grape could Revitalize Midwest Wine Industry

October 17, 2008

Scientists from the University of Illinois have developed a new grape variety resistant to the popular herbicide 2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic or 2, 4-D. The new variety, named Improved Chancellor, harbors a bacterial gene that allows them to metabolize the herbicide. Normally, 2, 4-D is lethal to most grape varieties even at concentrations 1/100th of the amount used to kill broadleaf weeds.

"After the grapes have been tested and found safe to eat, I think it's going to be beneficial to Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and other Midwestern states -- anywhere grain is grown and 2, 4-D is sprayed on the crops," said Robert Skirvin, plant biologist in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Because the new grape is genetically modified, it has not been tested outside the greenhouse yet. The researchers hope to get permission to grow them in an isolation plot outdoors by spring 2009.

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