With summer in full swing, organic seedless watermelons and organic seedless grapes start cropping up in our produce displays. For those accustomed to more traditional organic produce, the term “seedless” often triggers a spontaneous knee jerk reaction. How can a traditionally grown organic fruit or vegetable end up without seeds? The only seemingly logical explanation conjures images of genetic modification ripped from the pages of a science fiction novel. Imagine seeds wired to machines that pump them full of strange DNA, their internal structures warping as GMOs course through their unsuspecting hulls.
Thankfully, growing seedless fruits doesn’t necessarily involve Genetically Modified Organisms, but rather, careful plant selection and breeding to achieve the desired results:
Seedless Grapes: Seedless Grapes aren’t the product of some mad scientist who grew tired of spitting out grape pits. Seedless grapes are actually the result of a natural genetic mutation that left an otherwise normal grape without a seed. The flower itself still undergoes pollination and fertilization, but the seed simply stops growing a few weeks after it develops.
Seedless Watermelon: The production of seedless watermelon involves the cross breeding of watermelons with differing numbers of chromosomes. In order to grow a virtually seedless watermelon, a tetraploid watermelon (4 sets of chromosomes) pollinates a diploid watermelon (2 sets of chromosomes).
After reproduction, the resulting watermelons will contain 3 sets of chromosomes, making them sterile. The sterile watermelons, known as triploids, produce very few, tiny seeds that are then used in the cultivation of successive seedless watermelons (the triploid seeds must be pollinated by a diploid watermelon in order to germinate).
In the strictest sense, the type of breeding used to create and stimulate the growth of otherwise sterile watermelons could be defined as “genetic modification.” However, the production of seedless watermelons does not involve the introduction of genetic material from entirely different animals or plants to achieve results. Seedless watermelons aren’t injected with DNA obtained from fish, tomatoes or other decidedly “un-watermelon” sources that would make them unnatural.
So the next time you stop by our stores and find yourself scrutinizing a seedless grape or watermelon, remember, a lack of seeds doesn’t mean an abundance of GMOs or other scary modifications. Rest assured that we’ve done our research and remain committed to providing the finest organic produce around!
Note: All information courtesy of Albert’s Organics.