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GM Purple Tomatoes May Soon Appear in Your Local Grocery Store

Recently the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the commercial production and sale of a new purple coloured genetically modified (GM) tomato, known as the “purple tomato”. The US Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for food safety, has yet to approve it. Here, once again, we have an unnecessary food product, genetically engineered for patent protection – a financially motivated concept – and without human safety testing.

Anthocyanins are a group of water-soluble phenolic pigments that give the tomato its purple colour. It is not a dominant group of compounds in red tomatoes. The purple tomato is genetically engineered to cause over-expression of this particular group of polyphenolic anthocyanin pigments.

There are already numerous (heritage) varieties of natural purple tomatoes, so why would we need another one that is genetically engineered? The heritage varieties have anthocyanins mostly concentrated in their skin, whereas the GM variety has them all the way through the fruit – hence the unusually high levels.