I’ve noticed some discussion online lately about seedless watermelons and claims that they are “genetically modified,” which somehow makes them a black sheep in the world of produce. I’d like to take this time to set the record straight and restore dignity and honor to the great seedless watermelon by making this declaration:
Seedless watermelons are NOT genetically modified. They are hybrid watermelons that have been grown in the United States for more than 50 years and are safe and delicious in every way!
“A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. This is similar to the mule, produced by naturally crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.”
So there you have it. Seedless watermelons are just regular watermelons, albeit a relatively younger relative of the traditional seeded watermelon. Despite being the new kid on the block, the seedless watermelon actually outsells its seeded peers by a significant margin. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, only 16 percent of watermelon sold in grocery stores has seeds. In 2003, that number was 43 percent.
Oh sure, sometimes I miss those little black seeds, but it’s mainly for nostalgic reasons. Sort of the way I miss shopping for new clothes before the start of a new school year. Does it mean I want to spend an entire Saturday in the mall with my mother telling me I’ll “grow into” the five pairs of pants we just spent three hours trying on? Not a chance.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a wedge of watermelon in the fridge with my name on it. Seedless, of course… and my pants fit me just fine.