James and the Giant Corn Rotating Header Image

The Real GM Tomato

In my previous post I mentioned that the only people who actually knew what GM tomatoes tasted like where a few who’d lived in California in the mid-90s. That was when Calgene, a biotech start-up founded in the university town of UC-Davis, introduced a tomato that would last longer without tasting like cardboard. And the trait wasn’t the result of a gene from fish or deadly nightshade* but simply a copy of a gene already in tomatoes, reversed so it would reduce the effect of the existing copies. But how did it taste? Click read more to find out:

This writer has eaten a genetically engineered Flavr Savr tomato, and while the taste can’t compare with a summer garden grown tomato (what can?), it was pretty darn good. The Flavr Savr wasn’t intended to compete with summer produce, but in the winter when the grocery stores only sell the hard, green bullets that bear no resemblance to a real tomato, the Flavr Savr should be appealing.

Source. The whole page was an interesting read, from a more optimistic time when GM tomatoes came with little pamphlets explaining their benefits and how they were created. The article mentions that Calgene (back then the face of genetic engineering, a title since passed to Monsanto), was working on a genetically engineered chocolate following the release of their tomatoes. But it was not to be.

Calgene waited several years for FDA approval, planting tomatoes and then plowing them when it became clear approval would not come in time for that season’s harvest (lossing money the whole time). When the tomatoes were finally approved, issues remained with production and distribution, as with any new product, with the result that there were never enough of the new tomatos to meet demand and when tomatoes were avaliable they were sold at a loss. Calgene burned through their venture capital funding and were eventually bought up by Monsanto for their work on cotton and canola. The flavr savr tomato disappeared into history.

*Which would have made sense as deadly nightshade is in same group of species as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: