GMO toma­to, which con­tains 10 times more antiox­i­dants, has helped mice with can­cer live 30% longer in Nor­folk Plant Sci­ences research.

Now the genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied toma­to is ready to enter the US mar­ket. A researcher-devel­oped “super toma­to” crossed with snap­drag­on flower genes to increase lev­els of antho­cyanins, which have anti-dia­bet­ic, anti-can­cer, anti-inflam­ma­to­ry, and oth­er health ben­e­fits.

The genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied toma­to was first devel­oped in 2008 when sci­en­tists added two flower genes to a toma­to to pro­duce a dark pur­ple col­or. The dis­tinc­tive hue is cre­at­ed by antiox­i­dant pig­ments also found in black­ber­ries and cran­ber­ries, known as antho­cyanins. Antho­cyanins are chem­i­cals called flavonoids that destroy poten­tial­ly harm­ful oxy­gen mol­e­cules in the body. Although they are nat­u­ral­ly pro­duced by toma­to plants, they are usu­al­ly found only in the leaves.

The team test­ed the pur­ple toma­to to see if it was healthy. In the study, genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied toma­toes were giv­en to mice with can­cer, and then anoth­er group of mice with the dis­ease were giv­en tra­di­tion­al toma­toes. Mice fed GMO pur­ple toma­toes lived an aver­age of 30 per­cent longer than mice fed reg­u­lar red toma­toes.

How­ev­er, this study was con­duct­ed in 2008, and only now the new “super toma­to” has received per­mis­sion for cul­ti­va­tion and use in the Unit­ed States. The cre­ators plan to first sell seeds with mod­i­fied genes to local agri­cul­tur­al com­pa­nies.

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