They are increasingly seen in greengrocers and markets. Seedless watermelons have been one of the big hits of the summer for a few years. Some people call them unnatural and harmful to the body . What is true in all this?
Seedless watermelon is nothing new to begin with. The “invention” was developed in Japan in 1939 and has been sold in some countries for more than 40 years. Its success is the result of the great demand it has for “normal” watermelon, the typical one with black seeds, and is that it is more convenient to eat, especially for children (large consumers of this fruit) and the elderly. In addition, with it you can reduce the risk of drowning , although the seedless also has, but less.
It is not a transgenic fruit but a hybridization . And what is this exactly? Hybridization consists of crossing two plants whose chromosomes are incompatible. As Miguel Ángel Lurueña, food technologist, explains in his blog Gominolas de Petróleo , what he does in the case of seedless watermelons is to cross the male pollen of a diploid watermelon with the female flower of a tetraploid watermelon. The result that is obtained is a triploid watermelon, which is not capable of generating mature seeds, being, therefore, sterile.
As for whether it is less healthy than black seed, the answer is no. Lurueña states on her blog that the seedless variety can even be safer to eat since its tiny seeds make it difficult to choke. It also refers to a series of inconclusive studies that suggest that the seedless could contain more lycopene than the traditional one . But they are that, not conclusive.
And what would happen if the seedless watermelon instead of being a hybrid was a transgenic? The food technologist, Beatriz Robles, explains in her book Eat safe eating everything : “That in your stomach you digest its genes and the proteins that these genes have encoded, exactly as you do with any other product. That DNA is not incorporated into your genome, nor does it have the ability to alter anything . If that were the case, you would already be purple for having eaten ordinary aubergines, which also have genes ”.
In fact, to think that watermelons that have no seeds are not natural is completely wrong. As Lurueña points out, almost all the foods that man grows are the result of his intervention . Since the beginning of agricultural and livestock activities, human beings have been selecting and crossing species and varieties to obtain the foods they like or need the most. Natural, natural would be a wild fruit and the watermelon that is, is much smaller than those we see in the greengrocer (with or without seeds) and its flavor is not sweet but bitter.
“We have been playing with genes in a rudimentary way since the beginning of agriculture and livestock, making grafts, crossing and selecting varieties that give sweeter fruits or that have more muscular offspring. But the manipulation was crazy, based on trial and error. What we do now is direct the shot well to achieve the improvements we want, whether it is to increase resistance to drought or pests (with the consequent reduction of pesticides, for example) or to improve its nutritional quality ”, explains Robles in his book .
One last point, the watermelons plagued with black seeds that many of us were used to are not going to disappear because they are less marketed. They are necessary to obtain the seedless variety.