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Cancer-Fighting Purple Tomatoes? Why not, answers a team of scientists in the UK. The latter have developed a variety of tomatoes enriched with antioxidants, which they believe can reduce the impact of certain chronic diseases. They have the first seal of approval in America.
The first developments in this matter are not new. ” When Cathy and I founded NPS (Norfolk Plant Sciences) about 15 years ago, we never thought it would take as long to get regulatory approval as we did when we discovered a genetically improved, health-enhancing purple tomato in the UK. Says Professor Jonathan Jones of Sainsbury’s Laboratories.
So it was only in 2008 that the first study on the subject was published. Published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. “ This is one of the first examples of metabolic engineering that offers the potential to improve health through diet by reducing the impact of chronic disease. “, biologist Cathy Martin announced at the time. “ And of course the first example of a GMO [organisme génétiquement modifié] With an attribute that truly offers potential benefits to all consumers “.
Tomatoes modified by scientists have ten times the antioxidant content of conventional varieties. This explains their purple color. In fact, it comes from an antioxidant called anthocyanin. It is found in blueberries or red cabbage, which gives them their specific color.
However, this antioxidant is known to have a positive impact on health, particularly in reducing the risk of diabetes or heart disease. It is because of this that it has attracted the attention of scientists. Purple tomatoes already existed before scientists researched them. However, they are very low in anthocyanin.
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants
So the team of researchers started with this type of tomato and found a way to greatly increase this ratio. To do this, they took out two genes in the snapdragon, also known as the “wolf’s mouth”. By combining these genes, they modified the purple tomato. After that, it was possible to obtain tomatoes with very high anthocyanin content.
Then they experimented on lab mice with cancer. Mice fed this tomato-based diet had a 30% longer life span than others. The results encouraged scientists to continue their research. For example, they are thinking of using tomato juice production in therapeutic contexts.
However, the marketing of this new type of genetically modified tomato and its approval for marketing is the first step. A long regulatory process, it has recently reached a tipping point. ” This is amazing, I never thought I would see this day. We are now one step closer to my dream of sharing healthy purple tomatoes with as many people who are interested in eating them. “Cathy Martin is encouraging A statement From the John Innes Center.
In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued the first positive opinion for growing this purple tomato in the United States. ” From a pest risk perspective, this plant is safe to grow and use in breeding in the United States “, we can read in particular Company press release. This is a first step that scientists hope will soon lead to recognition. They want to start commercialization in 2023 and seek approvals for commercialization in the United Kingdom, which they have not been granted.
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