Totally unrelatedly, the French are about to plant some genetically modified grape vines:
A new strain of grapevines resistant to Fanleaf disease may soon be planted in a test vineyard in Alsace, France. The project hopes that modified vines might improve vineyard health, raise wine quality and reduce pesticide use, as well resurrect the French wine industry, currently suffering from competition from emerging wine leaders South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South America.
Fanleaf disease is transmitted by the soil nematode Xiphinema index, which feeds on the roots of grape vines, transferring the Grapevine Fanleaf Virus (GFLV) from infected plants to otherwise healthy ones. The virus stunts vine growth, discolors grape leaves, and yields poor tasting fruit. It is estimated to affect more than 25,000 acres of vineyards in France, reducing crop yields by up to 80 percent for sensitive varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir.
French winemakers fight the virus by spraying infected plants with nematicide, a pesticide so potent that its use in agriculture has been banned in countries such as Switzerland and Germany and in some U.S. states. According to Marc Fuchs, head of the GM project, "It kills all organisms in the soil, even the micro-organisms that play a big role in the biological life that forms terroir."
I suppose I could make a shite-drinking-Adam-Gopnik connection, but why force it? Anyway, wine grapes are going to be a very interesting case for the technology, particularly as Pierce's disease advances through California.