Trojan Tomato: A New GMO Is Designed To Infiltrate America’s Gardens – Sina McCullough 5/4/24


As spring gardening approaches, a new contender has entered the fray—the genetically modified (GM) Purple Tomato. Unlike its GM predecessors, the GM Purple Tomato is not destined solely for the fields of commercial agriculture—it has made its debut in the backyards of home gardeners across the United States.

With claims of heightened antioxidant levels and potential health benefits, this novel creation has stirred both excitement and controversy among consumers and scientists alike. Biotech investors hope it can usher in a new era of public trust in genetically engineered foods while skeptics worry the tomatoes’ near-total lack of regulation or review may hide dangers to human health and/or the environment.


The GM Purple Tomato was engineered by scientists at Norfolk Plant Sciences in the UK. Led by biochemist Cathie Martin and her team, the project aimed to harness the natural properties of anthocyanins, compounds found in blueberries and blackberries, to enhance the nutritional profile of tomatoes.

Using genetic engineering techniques, Martin and her colleagues inserted two genes responsible for purple coloration in edible snapdragon flowers into tomato plants. This process enabled the tomatoes to express the genes from the snapdragon and, subsequently, produce high levels of anthocyanins, thereby imbuing the tomatoes with a distinct purple hue and potentially enhanced health benefits.

According to Norfolk Healthy Produce, the U.S. subsidiary of Norfolk Plant Sciences, the Purple Tomatoes are a “rich source of antioxidants due to the increased content of anthocyanins. Unlike domesticated tomatoes which contain anthocyanins in the skin, the Purple Tomato contains anthocyanins throughout the whole tomato.

The genesis of the GM Purple Tomato marks a significant milestone in agricultural biotechnology. Unlike previous GM crops primarily targeted at commercial producers, this tomato is the first GM food crop directly marketed to home gardeners in the United States, offering an opportunity for individuals to engage with biotechnology in their own backyard.

According to Norfolk Healthy Produce, more than 13,000 Purple Tomato seed orders have already shipped….

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