The chance may be coming soon. A U.K. company has been developing a genetically modified tomato for over 15 years. It was announced on September 7th that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the growth and cultivation of their purple tomato in the United States. So now the genetically modified tomato will be making its jump across the pond.
Professors Cathie Martin and Jonathan Jones co-founded Norfolk Plant Sciences, whose mission is to “bring to market health-promoting, genetically enhanced purple tomatoes…” stated Jones in a press release after receiving approval by the USDA. Their purple tomato has been modified with two genes from the snapdragon flower. These genes activate the production of anthocyanin. This activation is important because anthocyanin enables the purple coloring and has many health benefits. It can reduce inflammation, help prevent cancer, treat irritable bowel syndrome, and protect against type 2 diabetes. Additionally, these genetically modified tomatoes have proven to have a longer shelf-life in the studies that Norfolk has done.
Although it is exciting news that they received approval, the road to the grocery store may not be easy. Despite extensive research done by scientists that GMOs are equally as safe to eat as non-GMO foods, there is still hesitation among the general public about them. However, there may be a shift as younger generations begin to dominate the market and are more open-minded to these genetically modified foods. Norfolk Healthy Produce, which is the U.S. arm of Martin’s Norfolk Plant Sciences, have a strategy planned for the introduction of their tomato and a way to combat the probable initial fear of their purple tomato - Farmers’ Markets.
The company is also developing purple tomato juice, sun-dried tomatoes, and beefsteak tomatoes and wants to sell seeds for backyard gardeners. For their cherry tomatoes, they plan to have them in test markets sometime in 2023. This means that the purple tomato may be on the kitchen table soon. Stay tuned as the story continues to develop.