Can GMO agave transform the tequila industry?

tequila shortage internal
Credit: T photography

Black frost is a meteorological phenomenon marked by temperatures that drop below 0 ° C for up to five hours – which puts tequila agave crops at risk. In March 2016, Jalisco Agaveros feared the worst as a snowstorm fell on his crops …. and recalled a black frost that hit the country almost 20 years ago.

[T]he phenomenon that occurred in December of 1997 stopped the production of 250 million liters of tequila and generated losses of 700 million dollars.

The tequilana Agave is the preferred species for the industry, because it has more sugar content than any other species, says June Simpson, researcher at the Genetics Engineering Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) in Irapuato, Guanajuato.

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Weather phenomena such as snowfall not only expose the plant to pests and diseases, they also force it to “invest time and nutrients” in recovery, instead of  growing and accumulating sugars.

Related article:  A look at the neglected '1%' of biotech crops that slashed chemical use and boosted yields

These situations have motivated scientists, companies and organizations such as the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), to bet on research and development of technological solutions …. June Simpson is a specialist in plant molecular biology and is part of a group of scientists who, for four years, intensified research that aims to accelerate the maturation of an agave by manipulating its genes, without neglecting the sugar content in the species.

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Read full, original article: Transgenic Tequila? Mexicans develop agave that accumulates more sugar in less time

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