After a decade of development, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently authorized the cultivation and marketing of purple tomatoes in the country starting in 2022.
This tomato has been genetically manipulated to produce 10 times more antioxidants than pre-existing varieties, stated Norfolk Plant Sciences, the company responsible for its creation.
More specifically, anthocyanins, which are a type of natural flavonoid that has numerous benefits and is present in most blue, red, and purple fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, blackberries, and pomegranates. Anthocyanins reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, protect the capillaries of the retina, are antiviral, and have anticancer properties.
In 2008, the effects of anthocyanin-boosted tomatoes were investigated in mice designed to develop cancer. The mice that were fed a diet supplemented with this superfruit lived 30% longer than rodents on a regular diet.
"This is one of the first examples of metabolic engineering that offers the potential to promote health through diet by reducing the impact of chronic disease," stated biologist Cathie Martin in 2008.
The US approval marks the first place in the world that can cultivate, taste, and enjoy the benefits of genetically modified purple tomatoes. The creators of the tomato expect the UK will be the next country to approve it.