Are PIWI grapes a Genetic Modified Organism (GMO)?

Sauvignier Gris

A few days ago after posting a few posts about PIWI grapes, a discussion began on LinkedIn whether or not PIWI grapes are considered a genetic modified organism or simply GMO. The controversy is important and pertinent because in some countries like Italy it is forbidden the cultivation of GMOs.

I soon went to study a little more because I wasn’t sure of my answer. At first it seemed not to me, because PIWI grapes are the result of crosses and selections, not DNA manipulations. But reading some other scholarly articles I wondered if recent research had inserted some varieties that could be the result of DNA manipulations and considered GMOs.

Between comings and goings, a light appears at the end of the tunnel. A fellow winemaker, Vagner Marchi, clarified for us that PIWI grapes can indeed be produced from manipulation and genetic modification, which would make the process of their generation much faster. However, the varieties grown so far have been produced exclusively from crosses of different species, basically Vitis vinifera and Vitis lambrusca.

So the most accurate answer to this question is that currently grown PIWI grapes are not a Genetic Modified Organism – GMO.

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