Frankenfood: Purple Tomatoes

Lest you thought scientists gave up splicing genes from one thing to another, here come purple tomatoes, engineered to maybe ward off cancer:

The tomato is purple because it contains the same class of health-promoting pigments found in blueberries, blackberries and cranberries. The pigments are thought to ward off some of the most serious diseases associated with a Western lifestyle.

When scientists fed dried extracts of the GM tomato to a strain of laboratory mice with a genetic predisposition to developing cancer, the mice had an average lifespan of 182 days, compared with 142 days for mice fed on a standard diet.

Scientists in Norwich created the purple tomato by inserting two genes taken from the snapdragon plant that regulate the production of anthocyanin pigments, which could protect against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and the degenerative illnesses linked to ageing.

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