usda approves purple tomato; first genetically modified organism is safe to eat and with 10 times more antioxidants
(Photo : John Innes Centre UK via Getty Images) In this handout photo illustration provided by the John Innes Centre UK, purple tomatoes are seen on October 27, 2008 in Norwich, United Kingdom. Scientists from the John Innes Centre, UK have genetically engineered tomatoes to contain very high levels of the cancer-fighting antioxident “anthocyanins”, which as a result have turned the usually red fruit into a deep purple.

After 14 years, the genetically modified purple tomato finally got its approval to enter the United States. That means that starting next year, Americans can buy purple tomato seeds to plant.

Two researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom genetically modified the tomato that was also developed by the British company Norfolk Plant Sciences.

According to Bob FM, the goal of this purple tomato is to make tomatoes with 10 times more antioxidants than existing varieties. The developers of the genetically modified fruit said that it has increased health benefits and nutritional outcomes.

Creating a Genetically Modified Purple Tomato

Cathie Martin created the purple tomato while doing her research work at the John Innes Center. She went on to find the Norfolk Plant Sciences with fellow professor Jonathan Jones of the Sainsbury Laboratory. Since then, they have tried to secure their product in the market. However, they experienced some obstacles along the way.

An article in Food Ingredients 1st reports that Martin engineered a precise genetic “on switch” from an edible flower to create the purple tomato. They created a tomato rich in antioxidants called anthocyanin that is safe for human consumption.

The antioxidant is said to be the reason for its different color from other tomato varieties. Large amounts of anthocyanins have pigments that can also be found in other fruits, such as the blackcurrant.

Researchers noted that even though purple-skinned tomatoes are already sold in the market, the genetically modified purple tomato is different from them because it contains high levels of healthy compounds that are good for health.

Health Benefits of the Genetically Modified Purple Tomato

The developers wrote in their study, titled “Enrichment of Tomato Fruit With Health-Promoting Anthocyanins by Expression of Select Transcription Factors,” published in 2008 in the journal Nature Biotechnology, that the purple tomato had been genetically edited to produce high volumes of anthocyanins.

Researchers said that when cancer-prone mice were given purple tomatoes, it extended their lifespan by 30%. The increase in their lifespan could be due to the high anthocyanin levels in the purple tomato.

Anthocyanin is an antioxidant known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

usda approves purple tomato; first genetically modified organism is safe to eat and with 10 times more antioxidants

(Photo : John Innes Centre UK via Getty Images)
In this handout photo illustration provided by the John Innes Centre UK, purple tomatoes are seen on October 27, 2008 in Norwich, United Kingdom. Scientists from the John Innes Centre, UK have genetically engineered tomatoes to contain very high levels of the cancer-fighting antioxident “anthocyanins”, which as a result have turned the usually red fruit into a deep purple.

“This is one of the first examples of metabolic engineering that offers the potential to promote health through diet by reducing the impact of chronic disease,” plant biologist Martin said in a 2008 press release via Science Daily. She added that this is also the first example of a genetically modified organism that offers a potential benefit for all its consumers.

Finally Getting Approval From US Regulators

The genetically modified purple tomato is finally a step closer to the US market after the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) gave its approval, New Atlas reported.

That means the plant is no longer regulated with strict rules that limit where and how it can be grown. The approval also means that Americans can buy purple tomato seeds starting in 2023 to plant anywhere in the US, like any allowable crop in the country.

There have been a number of enhanced tomato products developed over the years, including anthocyanin-rich tomato juice that could be tested for its clinical properties to help patients with cancer or cardiovascular diseases.

Keyword: USDA Approves Purple Tomato; First Genetically Modified Organism Is Safe to Eat and With 10 Times More Antioxidants

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