News reports say that researchers from the John Innes Center in the UK have grown a potentially cancer-preventing tomato. These tomatoes genetically altered to grow with the dark purple pigment anthocyanin are hoped to either prevent or reduce the effects of a number of chronic diseases including cancer.
When the purple tomatoes were fed to mice in the laboratory, their lives were significantly extended–and one can assume not simply over the excitement of eating a purple tomato!
Researchers conducting this study say its still too soon to tell how much an effect these GMOs will have on human health–and of course the key is still getting these veggies into people diets. But the successful introduction of this compound into the vegetable makes this GMO a huge success for metabolic engineering.
Oh–and one other thing: anthocyanin is found in snapdragon flowers naturally–but I wouldn’t go out and start chewing on the petals. These researchers say that the best way to prevent cancer is still to eat a balanced, healthy diet–not to bulk up on this single compound.
Summer Johnson, PhD