The Purple Tomato

History has been made in the Food and Agriculture Industries. The Purple Tomato, a genetically engineered tomato-snapdragon hybrid, is an antioxidant, anthocyanin, and nutrition-rich fruit that has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous, and anti-viral properties. It has revolutionized the fruit by giving it properties only found in superfoods, making this a super tomato. Read on to understand what is so special about this tomato!

In the past, the United States has been extremely cautious about what GMOs are to be let into the country and which ones should be prohibited. Organic foods from foreign countries can bring in diseases that the US is simply not able to fight against. Whether it be the climate, the hygienic norms, or other reasons, some foods should not be distributed internationally. If a product that is genetically tampered with is being brought into the country, the diseases that may lie inside it could be some that have never been seen before, making the country more vulnerable than ever. Since the topic of even letting the product inside the country is so heavily debated, then the topic of letting that plant be grown and bred inside the country itself should be an obvious no, right? Well, the USDA approved the Purple Tomato on September 7th, making it the first time the USDA has approved a GMO plant designed to target human health.

Since 2008, Professor Cathie Martin from Norfolk Plant Sciences has been developing the Purple Tomato with one goal in mind. She wanted to “enable [her] ground-breaking plant research to make a positive impact in people’s lives”. Tomatoes are narrowly behind potatoes in being the best-selling vegetable. They are extremely relevant, showing up in many cultures around the world. Because of their impact on the world, Professor Martin wanted to help people through tomatoes. She mixed genes from the snapdragon flower into a tomato, and when it fully developed, it donned a deep purple color, along with an arsenal of nutritional benefits.

She tested these tomatoes by feeding mice. The control group was fed a normal, mainstream tomato, while the test group was fed the Purple Tomato. The mice from the test group lived for 30% longer on average. These mice were also highly susceptible to cancer, and while the mice from the control group suffered and died from it, the mice from the test group stayed unaffected. They didn’t develop any cancerous traits and lived a long life. Along with a longer shelf life, protection against diabetes, and antioxidants throughout the fruit, this tomato is too good to be true.

These tomatoes are entering the public market soon, and Norfolk Plant Sciences hopes to have them worldwide and grown by local farmers by the end of 2023. Lack of anthocyanin, antioxidants, and fiber will be ideas of the past as NPS’s Purple Tomato becomes the norm around the world. Do you think that GMOs like this one should rival the naturally occurring version of itself?


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