Purple tomatoes are taking over the internet! Here’s everything about the GM fruit’s health benefits and unique colour | The Financial Express

Purple tomatoes are taking over the internet! Here’s everything about the GM fruit’s health benefits and unique colour

According to Norfolk Plant Sciences filing with the USDA, the anthocyanins found in the purple fruits of a hemizygous Del/Ros1 plant were 500mg per 100 g of fresh weight, while those found in wild red tomatoes were undetectable.

Purple tomatoes are taking over the internet! Here’s everything about the GM fruit’s health benefits and unique colour
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the purple tomato can help prevent age-related degenerative disorders. (Image: Twitter/@DavidECastroG)

A tomato that wards off cancer! European scientists’ restless research on developing a genetically modified purple tomato that is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-cancer properties has finally been approved by US regulators. The seeds of the plant developed by Norfolk Plant Sciences (NPS) are expected to enter the US market for sale by 2023. The UK-grown fruit, however, is yet to get a nod from the food quality regulators of the home country.

The USDA in its statement said that the plant is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to the US. This means that it can be safely grown and used in the country. As a result, it is not subject to the regulations of 7CFR part 340. The researchers are excited that their “healthy” creation will finally make its way to the American platter.

What are the properties of purple tomatoes?

The purple tomato has higher levels of anthocyanins, which are compounds that can help protect the skin and organs from harmful chemicals. According to a company’s filing with the USDA, the anthocyanins found in the purple fruits of a hemizygous Del/Ros1 plant were 500mg per 100 g of fresh weight, while those found in wild red tomatoes were undetectable.

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The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the purple tomato can help prevent age-related degenerative disorders. Studies also suggest that these compounds can help treat obesity and other conditions.

Findings of the merit of this new GM tomato published in the Nature Biotechnology journal pave the way for a new generation of “functional food” that can help in warding off serious diseases.

Why are the tomatoes purple

Anthocyanins are also responsible for giving them a unique purple colour like in blueberries, cranberry, blackberry and red cabbage. It is a kind of antioxidant that lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases, according to a report by crast.

This pigment does not give the fruit a distinct flavour or smell of its own but its presence can bring a slightly “astringent” or acidic taste, the researchers suggest in their paper.

How the GM purple tomato was produced

In 2008, a group of European researchers led by Professor Cathie Martin of the John Innes Centre successfully engineered a genetic switch that allows them to create a rich purple tomato. The researchers were able to extract the anthocyanins from a Snapdragon flower and turn it into regular tomato fruit, resulting in purple tomatoes.

In order to study the effects of the modified tomato on the lifespan of cancer-susceptible mice, the researchers tested the effects of the fruit on their diet. They found that the animals’ lifespan was significantly extended when they were fed a diet rich in purple tomatoes.

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