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Purple tomatoes can finally reach the United States

Purple tomatoes can finally reach the United States

A small company has applied for a permit in the United States to sell genetically modified tomatoes that contain pigments that promote the health found in berries. Tomatoes were developed by the Public Research Center in the UK and have been shown to increase life expectancy by 30% in laboratory mice.

A genetically engineered purple tomato rich in pigments found in “superfoods” such as blueberries may soon be on sale in the United States. Norfolk Plant Sciences, a small company, applied for approval last year and hopes to go further. “We are confident that we will get the permissions we need,” Eric Ward, a consultant at the Norfolk Botanical Institute, said in an online presentation on February 22. The company hopes to sell seeds to gardeners and supply fresh tomatoes and other tomato products to stores.

The purple tomato was developed by Kathy Martin at the John Innes Center in the UK. In 2008, his team reported that rats with frozen dried form of these purple tomatoes lived approximately 30% longer than regular food or food with conventional tomato powder. “30% longevity is amazing,” he said during the presentation, however, the results of animal studies do not apply to people.

There are already varieties of tomatoes with purple skin, but genetically modified purple tomatoes also have purple flesh. They contain 10 times more anthocyanins, the antioxidant pigment. To accomplish this, Martin added two plant genes: Snapdragon (Antirhinum) and one from Arabidopsis. The added genes are active only in the fruit, where they enhance the activity of the plant’s current machinery for the production of anthocyanins.

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