Australian researchers are looking to genetically modify mildew-prone vines after identifying the mildew-resistant gene.

By identifying the gene in a grape variety highly resistant to mildew, scientists can transfer it to other more susceptible varieties, strengthening resistance to the rot and negating the use of pesticides.

University of California viticulture advisor George Leavitt believes these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could have a big future in Californian viticulture. He also recognises that genetic modification is a divisive subject.

‘GMOs are going to be the next big fight for agriculture in the next five years,’ he said.

Environmental activists are likely to oppose the use of genetically modified vines, wanting to ban GMOs from Californian agriculture entirely.

Wine producers in Mendocino County have already voted to prohibit GMOs in the region and a group of the world’s top producers, Terre et Vin du Monde, has grown significantly since its setup in response to GM vine tests in France five years ago.

Written by Oliver Styles