Contrary to popular belief, there are no genetically modified tomatoes currently being sold to consumers that were created in a laboratory setting.
But that could all change in the near future with the advent of a new type of genetically engineered tomato that is being sold on the open market in Japan, according to a new report from GMWatch.org.
The tomato, which is created using CRISPR gene editing, is being engineered to include higher levels of a substance called GABA, which is widely viewed as a health-promoting substance in the country.
Despite the stated intentions of these renegade scientists, the safety of these novel GMO tomatoes have been strongly called into question.
GMO Tomatoes Being Developed for Human Consumption
While tomatoes on store shelves are entirely either heirloom or hybrid varieties that have been grown using native seeds or seeds that have been cross-pollinated in fields over decades of research and tweaking in nature, the newly announced tomatoes are entirely different.
According to the report from GMWatch.org’s Claire Robinson, there are “no studies at all showing that eating the gene-edited tomato has health benefits or is even safe,” however.
If the tomato successfully manages to reach the American market, it would be the second such tomato of its kind, following the original GMO food, the Flavr Savr tomato, which made its debut on May 21, 1994.
The controversial GM tomatoes were soundly rejected by the United States market and are no longer sold in stores or used in restaurants, going down in history as a disaster of epic proportions.
The tomatoes were the subject of a book by scientist Belinda Marineau titled ‘First Fruit: The Creation of the Flavr Savr Tomato and the Birth of Biotech Foods,’ which is available for sale on Amazon.com and is a must-read for any non-GMO or pro-organic food activist.
GMO Purple Tomatoes Could Be Approved by the FDA Without Safety Testing
Aside from the aforementioned GMO tomatoes, scientist Cathie Martin at the John Innes Center in the United Kingdom has also developed a purple genetically modified (in this case gene edited) tomato that could hit store shelves sometime in the relatively near future.
According to Martin a regulatory decision could come by the end of February for her purple tomatoes.
While Europe has roundly rejected GMO foods, which are banned in at least 40 countries around the world by last count, the United States market’s weak GM regulations have made the country a testing ground for these novel, lab-grown foods.
“Martin’s targeting of the U.S. is no surprise, given the weak regulation of GM crops in that country,” GMWatch wrote.
She plans to market her GMO tomatoes directly to the public, but it is not known as to whether or not they will be labeled as being GMO or not.
Recently, the company AquaBounty made headlines when it its unlabeled GMO salmon was sold for the first time at a fish market on the East Coast of the United States.
Because these products are unlabeled, it is unknown as to whether or not these customers knew they were buying a transgenic, GMO fish that is not found in the wild or not.
Martin’s GMO purple tomatoes have allegedly been hyping the supposedly cancer-fighting qualities of the tomatoes over several years, despite warnings from health organizations that these claims are not supported by evidence, according to the GMWatch.org article.
They have not been tested for safety in animals or humans according to Robinson’s report on GMWatch as well, which begs the question: is the FDA doing the right thing when it comes to its lack of safety testing, or is their continued insistence on making us the “lab rats” in this equation a testament to the assertion that they are in fact not doing their jobs at all?