Wired has a story about a new bio-engineered purple tomato that has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for growth and cultivation in the US, saying that it is “unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk compared to other cultivated tomatoes” - the standard used by USDA for approving such things.
According to the story, the "purple tomato isn’t the first genetically modified fruit to be approved in the US. It’s not even the first genetically modified tomato - that designation goes to the Flavr Savr, introduced back in 1994 as the first genetically modified crop commercialized for human consumption. The Flavr Savr was created to have a longer shelf life than conventionally bred tomatoes. But because of its high production and distribution costs, it was pulled from the market just a few years later. The industry instead turned toward more profitable engineered crops, such as corn and soy, designed with the grower or producer in mind: to resist pests, tolerate herbicides, or produce higher yields.
"The purple tomato may mark a turning point for genetically modified foods in the US: Its engineered trait is meant to entice the shopper, not the farmer - specifically one interested in potential health benefits … While purple-skinned tomatoes have been developed through conventional breeding, they don’t accumulate high levels of anthocyanins in the flesh. There’s evidence from other researchers that these compounds may help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, and protect against type 2 diabetes."
Wired goes on:
"Other purple produce is popping up in grocery stores everywhere: There are purple potatoes, purple cauliflower, purple carrots, and purple yams. But these vegetables are produced using conventional breeding, in which parent plants with certain attributes are crossed to create a desirable combination. The purple tomato, on the other hand, is considered a genetically-modified organism (GMO) because it’s made with recombinant DNA technology, in which genes from another organism are added.
"It’s not yet clear whether these characteristics will be enough to win over consumers who are wary of GMOs."
- KC's View:
I've always been agnostic on the subject of GMOs; I just like transparency when it comes to labeling. But if you tell me that purple tomatoes may help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, and protect against type 2 diabetes, and add that to the fact that tomatoes are one of my favorite foods, I'm pretty much all in.
I wonder how they'll taste on "a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe."