What is The Flavr Savr Tomato?
The first successfully genetically modified crop plant was the Flavr Savr tomato. But what is it? Scientists have created a firm, longer lasting tomato that has a better taste than normal tomatoes. By isolating the gene in tomatoes called polygalacturonase, it is flipped backwards and placed back into the plant.
The Making of the Tomato
In the 1980s, Calgene Inc., a biotechnology company in California, experimented with tomatoes and the enzyme polygalacturonase (PG). PG is what dissolves pectin, a heteropolysaccharide in the cell wall of tomatoes and other plants. When PG destroys the pectin, the firmness of the tomato weakens and becomes soft, making the tomato unable to ship.
In the steps of making the Flavr Savr tomato, scientists isolated the PG gene in the plant. Then, they took the gene and reversed it. This is called an anitsense orientation. After doing so, they inserted the gene back into the plant. Once the plant had grown, tomatoes are kept on the vine longer than normal tomatoes to add more flavor. To tell if the gene was succesful, the antibiotic kanamycin is added, and the tomatoes are observed to see which accepted the PG gene. If a tomato was unaffected by the antibiotic, then the process is successful. Calgene's Flavr Savr Tomato was later introduced to markets and grocery stores in 1992.
Pros and Cons of GMOs
There are some good and bad things to having GMOs. For example, some good things include the food is healthier, more efficient, and some GMOs are resistant to pesticides. Most foods are genetically engineered for longer time in the store or to be seedless. This makes it possible to ship foods longer distances.
In most GMOs, they are made to be healthier than the normal food. Many are resistant to pesticides, and can be less in fat and more in protein. All GMOs are more efficient. They take less time, less machinery, and less chemicals. If the cost for making food lowers, then the grocery store price will lower as well, making food more affordable for some people.
There are a few negative impacts of GMOs that affect people and the environment. There are many arguments going on right now saying GMOs should be labeled. Many in the U.S. are not and people can't always be sure of what they're eating. If foods aren't labeled of what genes are in them, someone could have an allergic reaction to the food they eat. This could lead to some very fatal problems.
Another problem could be if an GMO was to escape into the wild, such as a salmon reproducing with normal salmon or a plant spreading its seeds over land. It could lead to be an invasive species that would control that entire area or environment. On some GMOs, a lot of pesticide is being used. Right now this is new to humans and it is not sure if our bodies can handle them. It can cause cancer or other illnesses, but scientists are unsure at the moment.
My Opinion of GMOs
I think GMOs are okay, as long as they are labeled on what is in foods. Everyone should know what they're eating. Not labeling foods can cause allergic reactions in some people. For example, if peanut genes were inserted into an organism and the food was never labeled in the grocery store. Then if someone allergic to peanuts buys that product, they will never know that peanuts are in it unless it is labeled.
I like that GMOs are more efficient to the economy. They take less land to grow on and that makes it easier to harvest. If there are less chemicals being used on the food, it is safer and healthier for people to eat. What I do not like is the pesticides being used on GMOs. If the food is pesticide resistant, more pesticide is used on the product because it will not be affected. This makes some GMOs unsafe for consumers.
In the Flavr Savr tomato, once the gene was reversed the tomato lasted longer. It is good that these tomatoes will be able to stay fresh in stores for an extended amount of time. Another thing about the tomato is that once it is grown, it is kept for a longer period of time on the vine. This makes it more flavorful and better than traditional tomatoes, thus providing an efficient, better tasting tomato that is better for the environment.