A Genetic Fix to Put the Taste Back in Tomatoes By Kenneth Chang, NYT Science

Summary of Article:

The taste of supermarket tomatoes has declined overtime. A professor at University of Florida, Dr. Harry J. Klee has located genes that produce the flavor chemicals that are missing from modern varieties of tomatoes, he has also identified heirloom and wild varieties of tomatoes that possess better versions of these genes. Work to create a hybrid that restores flavor but retains size and sturdiness has begun, the researchers are using traditional breeding, NOT genetic engineering! The work has taken year, but for home gardeners there is already a version available- for a donation of $10 or more you can get a packet of seeds. However in taste panels there were noticeable difference in taste preferences... one of the students at University of Florida picked the supermarket tomato as his favorite!

"Have we trained a whole generation that doesn't know what a good tomato is?" - Dr. Klee

Analysis of Article:

This article is relevant because in today's food market lot of fresh produce has become altered/endangered. Many scientists turn to genetic engineering which can turn consumers away and possibly have other issues linked to it. However, since this solution is quicker, it is also much easier. That is why it is so inspiring to see a scientist who is using traditional tomato breeding to restore delicious flavor to super market tomatoes! A lot of work still needs to be done since the process is long. The researchers have meticulously measured the levels of the different chemicals in different varieties, sequenced the full genome of nearly 400 varieties of tomatoes and gained insights from taste panels. They have succeeded in producing a home gardener version, so the project just needs to be completed on a greater scale.

Big Takeaway!

I picked this article because after just spending half a semester on food in my journalism class, I know a little bit about the controversy surrounding genetic engineering. Although taste is definitely important to me, genetically modified foods are frightening! This article gave me hope that some scientists are not just taking the quick and easy way out but are willing to put in years worth of work to produce traditionally breed, and tasty produce. I would love to learn more about more efforts from those such as Dr. Klee and if there is financing being done/or a way to finance such efforts.

Credits:

Created with images by Daria-Yakovleva - "tomatoes vegetables food" • VasenkaPhotography - "Tomato" • lilyrothrock - "untitled image" • MDGLillehammer - "No To GMO" • andrewmalone - "Tomatoes"

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