A movement like the anti-GMO movement is not based on evidence. It is based on fear, naturalist fallacies and low-impact, non-reproduced, suggestive science.
Those that subscribe to the dangers of transgenic crops clearly have shown that they have a very low threshold for evidence, and are easily manipulated. Therefore, Yanko Design has decided to sell them products that make unscientific claims -- because someone is likely to buy them. Capitalism in action.
Such is the Elephant Nose, an electronic nose that claims to detect GMO food. It has a meter that reads from DANGER to SAFETY. Now you can patrol the produce aisle with your magic wand, searching for Monsanto's boogeyman in every pile of eggplants. You can even run surveillance in the organic garden or grocery section and then destroy any deadly GMO plants before they have a chance to kill.
The Elephant Nose claims to detect GMO food, warning unsuspected
consumers of the dangers lurking within.
The fundamental science is real. There are electronic noses, detectors that can discriminate the presence of specific compounds in the air. For instance, Florence Negre-Zharkarov at University of California at Davis has a detector that can tell you if a melon is perfectly ripe. It works because plant materials, especially fruits, emit a constellation of specific volatile compounds through development. Detection of certain ones is possible.
However, the key word is volatile. An electronic nose can only detect a compound that has been released from the plant. Volatiles are low-vapor-pressure compounds. GMO technology works because it installs enzymes, proteins, oftentimes large, that can never be volatilized under anything close to ambient conditions.
Furthermore, volatile emissions change rapidly through time, and are influenced by the environment and metabolic state of the food item in question. Even if the transgene influenced volatiles, such a detector would only work at certain times.
Most importantly, there is not one commercial transgenic plant product that drives a change in volatiles. Enzymes installed are not associated with volatile synthesis (technical note: EPSPS mediates flux through the shikimate pathway in glyphosate-resistant crops, and that could feasibly affect phenylpropanoid production and the chorismate and aromatic amino acid-based volatiles). Even if transgenes did affect volatile production, there is no way to discriminate GMO enzyme activity from the native enzyme activity. The mechanism is not plausible to me.
It is rather genius to sell bad science to people that trust bad science-- crapitalism at it best/worse. I'm not one to usually promote exploiting those with limited critical thinking capacity, but if this takes the place of unnecessary labels that will drive food prices to the moon, then let the wanding begin.
Knock yerselves out.