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posted: 2/22/2014 7:45 AM

Monsanto develops new veggies

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  • Associated PressMonsanto is introducing novel strains of familiar foods.

    Associated PressMonsanto is introducing novel strains of familiar foods.

The Washington Post

The name Monsanto, Ben Paynter points out in Wired, "is synonymous with Big Ag." Over the past century, the company has produced saccharine, PCBs, Agent Orange and dioxin; it's also known for genetically engineering crops that resist its weedkiller Roundup and for patenting their seeds.

Now, Paynter reports, the company is introducing novel strains of familiar foods. Among them: Frescada lettuce, which, Paynter says, "is sweeter and crunchier than romaine." There's also BellaFina peppers, which come in single-serving sizes to reduce leftovers, and Beneforte broccoli, which has three times the usual level of an antioxidant-boosting compound.

"But here's the twist," Paynter writes.

The plants "aren't genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned crossbreeding."

The company has drawn on its "accumulated scientific know-how to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms without any of the Frankenfoods' ick factor." If you keep them away from pesticides, you could call them organic, Paynter notes. The company, he says, hasn't changed in one way: It still prohibits farmers from regrowing seeds from its new crops.

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