What are these genetically modified purple cancer-fighting tomatoes?

What are these genetically modified purple cancer-fighting tomatoes?

Soon genetically modified purple tomatoes on market stalls? British researchers have just developed what they believe to be a new treatment for cancer and chronic diseases. This curious fruit could well appear by 2023.

Tomatoes to replace heavy drug treatments to fight cancer? This is what scientists want to develop. Professors Cathie Martin and Jonathan Jones of Norfolk Plant Sciences, part of the John Innes Center (England), the leading independent center for research and experimentation in botany and microbiology in Europe, have been working for more than 10 years on the development of plants of genetically modified tomatoes with high nutritional content.

These fruits, whose purple color has been altered and turned purple, contain a high level of antioxidants and anthocyanins, a natural dye found in eggplant and blueberries and which, according to “several independent studies”beneficial effects on health, especially against chronic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome. “Antioxidants and anthocyanins may reduce cancer risk, increase cardiovascular function and well-being”we read on the Norfolk Plant Sciences website.

Purple tomatoes to fight cancer: a real scientific breakthrough?

To design this purple tomato, the researchers grafted a “precise genetic ‘switch’ derived from an edible flower” to a tomato. “When Cathie and I founded Norfolk Plant Sciences nearly 15 years ago to bring genetically improved, health-promoting purple tomatoes to market, we never thought it would take so long to get the regulatory approval »says Professor Jonathan Jones.

The latter has just received validation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and that of its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The organism has “determined that the modified tomato is unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk” and that the purple tomato is no longer subject to the regulations limiting the “movement of organisms modified or produced by genetic engineering”we read on the John Innes Center website.

Soon purple tomatoes on our plates?

After this validation by the American health authorities, it would therefore be very possible to find purple tomatoes on plates across the Atlantic in the spring of 2023. A victory for researchers, after years of work and testing. “We are now one step closer to my dream of sharing healthy purple tomatoes with the many people who are excited to eat them. Too bad the tomatoes will be on sale in America and not the UK”, said Cathie Martin. Marketing authorizations have not been granted to them by the United Kingdom.

Before adding: “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. And certainly the first example of a GMO that really offers a potential benefit for all consumers. And the curious are very eager to be able to taste this scientific curiosity, although there are already naturally purple tomatoes, the Big Purple Tomato website is carefully watching the release of the purple tomato and its seeds on the markets.

Purple tomatoes, an idea that is not new

This is not the first time that the color purple has been associated with the power of tomatoes to fight disease. In 2014, as reported by our colleagues from Top Healthscientists from the University of Ontario (Canada) have developed a fruit juice rich in antioxidants based on genetically modified purple tomatoes.

The samples were sent to the John Innes Center in England and studied by Professor Jonathan Jones. “We will study the effects of a diet high in anthocyanins on cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases”already indicated at the time the scientist.