‘Modified’ celebrates innovation in food

October 1, 2019

The Cornell Alliance for Science today launched “Modified,” a hip food cart that celebrates the innovative use of technology in food.

With its colorful “mod” paint job, the eye-catching cart is intended to engage eaters in conversations about genetically modified food, said Sarah Evanega, executive director of the Alliance.

“As synthetic biology and gene editing tools like CRISPR continue to advance, we will be seeing more modified food products hit the market, particularly in response to mitigating the impacts of climate change,” Evanega said. “We want to give consumers a fun venue to talk about and sample these foods. Eating is believing.”

Modified debuted at the Oct. 1-3 SynBioBeta conference in San Francisco, where hundreds of tech innovators and companies converge to learn about the latest developments in synthetic biology and its applications in food, agriculture, medicine and industry.

The Modified booth at SynBioBeta.

“We’re so pleased to support the launch of Modified at SynBioBeta ’19,” said John Cumbers, founder and CEO of SynBioBeta.  “We’re passionate about education and the use and adoption of biotechnology. Modified is a creative way to share that passion with consumers.”

The cart will be staffed by the “mod squad” — science ambassadors who can discuss the need for modified crops in countries across the globe. At SynBioBeta they’ll be distributing free samples of two genetically modified foods: the browning-resistant Arctic apple and the virus-resistant Hawaiian Rainbow papaya grown by the Kamiya family farm.

“We see Modified as a great opportunity for progressive companies to showcase their modified products,” Evanega said. “By pairing samples with informed, thoughtful conversations, we can help consumers better understand the use of biotechnology in food and agriculture.”

Consumers are often unaware of the role that modified crops can play in making agriculture more sustainable. Reducing pesticide use, food waste and carbon emissions are just some of the benefits of modified products now on the market. Research is under way on plants that can produce greater yields through more efficient photosynthesis, as well as crops that can thrive without the application of nitrogen fertilizers.

“Technology is ushering us into a very exciting time in agriculture and food,” Evanega said. “We think Modified can help people see how the old and the new can merge to provide us with innovative solutions to the grave challenges we face.”