Caffeine in everything!

posted in: Food | 3

We’ve all tried those chocolate covered espresso beans, and were left spitting out bitter bits of bean. A new product provides that boost without the yuck factor. ‘Sumseeds’ will be coming soon to a truck stop near you. They are in-shell sunflower seeds infused with caffeine, taurine, lysine, and ginseng. They will be the official seed of the Sioux Falls Canaries, reports Discovery News. The company has patents pending for their new way of roasting sunflower seeds and for their special infusion method that lets chemicals penetrate the shell.
Why go through all that work to infuse the caffeine into the sunflower seeds, when they could just transform the sunflower plants with the caffeine synthesis pathway genes? I definitely prefer a transgene to infusion of synthesized compounds. Monsanto has produced tobacco plants that produce caffeine. Their info sheet, posted in early April, states that the caffeine acts as an insecticide. It sounds like a great idea for a BT alternative, especially for crops that aren’t directly eaten (like sugar beets).
Updated on 19 May 2009: I just checked out the Sumseeds website and it turns out the seeds are only available in south Dakota, or can be purchased at their website.

Follow Anastasia Bodnar:
Anastasia is Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. and the Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. She has a PhD in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Her favorite produce is artichokes!