Those crazy scientists are at it again – using their dreaded scientific knowledge to genetically alter our produce in ways that may just improve it. This time, a long list of researchers from the UK and the United States claim they’ve created a tomato that stays firm longer without, presumably, affecting taste. If those jerks ever try to make a tomato that tastes better too, things really might get ugly!
According to the Wall Street Journal, scientists used two different DNA-altering techniques to target a gene for pectate lyase, an enzyme that causes tomatoes to soften by breaking down cell walls. The resulting produce still showed no signs of wrinkling after two weeks, unlike their conventional counterparts who could have used a bit of tomato Botox. Additionally, the scientists claim that the two plants were otherwise very similar, producing equal amounts of fruit and showing similar levels of the molecules that affect taste, color and smell.
Anti-GMO types still have plenty to pick apart from this study. First, the taste of the final products couldn’t actually be confirmed because they were grown in the UK, which didn’t allow consumption of the GMO tomatoes. Talk about food waste. However, probably more importantly, the study was funded in part by pesticide and seed company Syngenta.
In many ways, however, the whole thing is a moot point. USDA plant molecular biologist James Giovannoni told the WSJ that producers would find it tough to “justify the cost of going through the regulatory hoops” to bring these crazy tomatoes to market. Instead, research like this is intended more as a roadmap for the far more accepted technique of crossbreeding.
Plus, there is something extra frightening about the idea of a genetically-altered tomato. Probably because the 1978 horror classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is what got everyone scared of mutant produce to begin with.