New strawberry making people sick? (April Fools)

posted in: News | 17
Pineberries via The Guardian.

The UK supermarket Waitrose announced that they are selling a brand new variety of strawberry, a pale white berry with red seeds dubbed the “Pineberry” so named because it tastes and smells like pineapple.

The berries appear in the Daily Mail article Pineberries and cream? The new summer fruit which looks like a white strawberry… but tastes like a pineapple. Due to the timing of the press coverage at the end of March, people all over the blogosphere and editors on Wikipedia have been suspecting that this is an April Fools prank. The Guardian seems to think it is real, however, as you can see in their article Altered Strawberry has Bitter Beginning.

The Guardian is reporting a host of problems with these berries, including allergic reactions. Allergic reactions from traditionally bred fruits isn’t unheard of, but it is still surprising that a variety of strawberries, a fruit that has been consumed by humans for millennia, would cause any problems. Kiwi fruit, a common fruit source of allergic reactions, has only been a part of the human diet since the 1960s, and was released without testing – as seems to be the case with these berries. The berries are said to be a hybrid of Fragaria chiloensis from South America and Fragaria virginiana from North America.

According to the Guardian,

some [people] have been calling for a recall until more detailed research can be conducted on the pale fruit. “They’re playing God” said one uninterested customer. Crossing wild plants with cultivated varieties can have unpredictable consequences and introduce foreign proteins that have no history of being consumed safely.

This attitude is surprising, as fear of unintended consequences is normally reserved for crops that are produced with genetic engineering.

Note: This post was the Biofortified Blog’s 2010 April Fools joke.

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:
Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.