Healthier and more resistant: here comes the genetically modified purple tomato
The new purple tomatoes have already been approved in the United States and are expected to hit stores in 2023.
More beneficial to health, more durable and resistant. This is how the new type of tomato is described, which, in terms of flavor, the breeders guarantee, will maintain its essential characteristics. Only one thing changes: the color.
It is a genetically modified tomato and approved by the USDA, the United States Department of Agriculture. “From a risk point of view, in terms of plant diseases, it can be safely grown and used,” revealed the agency that gave its approval on September 7.
This lab-grown tomato comes from a collaboration of several British universities. Cathie Martin, one of the biochemists involved in the project, reveals the goals. “I wanted to start a project where we could see and see if there are benefits in using this group of pigments.”
Martin specifically talks about anthocyanins, the compound that gives the bluish and purple hue to fruits like blueberries, blackberries and eggplants — which, technically, are not a vegetable but a fruit, just like a tomato.
These tomatoes are purple precisely because Martin mutated them to make them rich in anthocyanins, in order to “boost their antioxidant capacity”. They want to know if this property also makes them healthier and more beneficial.
The first results were shared in 2008 and were “incredible”. Cancer-prone lab rats fed these tomatoes had 30 percent longer lifespans than those who ate normal tomatoes.
Subsequent studies also revealed the ability of these tomatoes to last longer on shelves and in refrigerators. Now we just need to convince people to buy the tomatoes. The secret may be in the color.
“It’s a color that grabs people’s attention in a very basic way”, explains Nathan Pumplin to “CNN”, the CEO of the company that is organizing the marketing. “It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that it’s a different tomato. And the different color helps people make their choice.”