A team of UK genetic scientists engineered tomatoes with a purple pigment taken from snapdragons. This pigment contains the antioxidant known as anthocyanin, which is the same antioxidant found in blueberries and blackberries. The scientists’ rationale was the thought that inserting this pigment into the plant would boost the tomato’s level of antioxidants, however they were not expecting the surprise of the tomatoes changing colors!
The scientists tested these tomatoes on mice and were able to conclude the mice that consumed the purple tomatoes lived, on average, one-third longer then the mice that did not eat the tomatoes. Since the tomatoes have not been consumed or researched in human subjects, the researchers aren’t sure of the product’s taste, but they don’t perceive the added antioxidants will have changed the flavor (obviously more research is needed to defend this hypothesis). Also, more research is needed to guarantee that the snapdragon genes aren’t producing potentially harmful chemicals that could endanger an individual upon ingestion.
Although there are still some unanswered questions, these purple tomatoes are exciting and interesting news. Be on the look out, you’ll never know when you’ll see these purple tomatoes pop up in our grocery stores!
October 28th, 2008