Could This Be the End of Mushy Tomatoes?



Photo by: hAseyin harmandalA ©hAseyin harmandalA

hAseyin harmandalA, hAseyin harmandalA

There’s nothing quite like a tomato at the peak of ripeness — firm, round and beautifully deep-hued, fragrant and sweet. Honestly, a good, ripe tomato is like candy.

Yet a few days later, that same tomato, past its prime, may be soft, puckered and hardly appealing — which is why, one imagines, the fruit is now getting the full GMO treatment from researchers.

In a paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers said they had altered the DNA of tomato plants to lengthen the tomatoes’ shelf life and prevent them from getting soft, mushy and puckered fully two weeks after they were harvested.

According to a Wall Street Journal report about the study, which was partly funded by Syngenta AG, a Swiss agrochemical company that makes pesticides and seeds, the genetically modified tomato plants and those grown in the typical manner produced roughly the same number of tomatoes per plant, and the tomatoes were molecularly similar in terms of taste, color and smell. However, the researchers have no idea how the GMO tomatoes actually tasted; the scientists conducted their work in the U.K., where the consumption of GMO foods is illegal, so they weren’t able to sample them.

What’s more, the prospect of the GMO tomatoes appearing on your grocery store shelves sounds remote. The commercial market is basically not large enough to offset the regulatory hurdles, USDA plant molecular biologist James Giovannoni told the Journal. “That is why the GMOs [genetically modified organisms] currently in the market are major crops, like maize or soy,” he said.

Rather, tomato growers may use insights from the study so they can crossbreed the fruits to replicate some of the shelf-life-prolonging benefits related to the genes pinpointed in the study — hopefully without compromising taste.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Next Up

Trisha’s 10 Best Desserts for the End of Summer

End the summer on a decadent note with one of these sweet-tooth-satisfying desserts from Trisha Yearwood.

Kid-Approved Lunches for the End of the School Year

You know you're counting down the days too.

The End of Summer Feels Like Family Reunion Day at the Lake

Writer Latria N. Graham reminisces about the family reunions of her childhood at the edge of a local lake. Music, fishing, and the richness of memory keep the spirit of those traditions alive long after the family has changed.

7 Healthy Ways to Grill Fresh Fruit Before the End of Summer

These recipes will steal a peach of your heart.

This One Trick Could Make Your Dessert Healthier

And it's way easier than you think.

"In the End, It Came Down to a Simple Question" — Alton's Post-Star Rundown

Every week, Alton Brown is joining the Star Talk roster to talk about the most-recent elimination and the thoughts behind each difficult decision from the judges' perspective. Read on for Episode 10.

16 Kid-Friendly Recipes That Will End Dinnertime Meltdowns This Year

This is it: the ultimate, every-kid-likes-it list of crowd-pleasing recipes you'll want to add to your rotation for 2016.