A strain of genetically modified wine yeast, said to prevent headaches, has been approved for use by Canada's health authorities.
Developed at the University of British Columbia and known by the trade name ML01, the genetically modified yeast is able to carry out malolactic fermentation at the same time as alcoholic ferment, reducing the risk of wine spoilage.
It also produces fewer allergenic bioamines – chemicals in wine that produce off-flavours and that can trigger headaches and migranes.
Food Biotechnologist Hennie an Vuuren, who heads up research into the use of GM yeast in BC, is currently seeking approval for its use from European authorities.
Approved by Health Canada for commercial use and now legal in the US and South Africa, ML01 has been commercially available since 2006, although is unlikely to be seen on labels due to concern over public reaction to genetic engineering.
Unlike the EU, US and Canadian labelling laws do not currently require producers to list the presence of GM ingredients.
Written by Hazel Macrae