Meet the Purple Tomato

It's got blueberry-like health benefits: researchers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2014 11:13 AM CST
Meet the Purple Tomato
A screen shot from John Innes Centre video on YouTube.   (YouTube)

Finally: the health benefits of a blueberry in the shape of a tomato. That's how researchers are billing a genetically-modified purple tomato that may soon be available to shoppers. "With these purple tomatoes you can get the same compounds that are present in blueberries and cranberries that give them their health benefits—but you can apply them to foods that people actually eat in significant amounts and are reasonably affordable," says Cathie Martin of the John Innes Centre. Research has suggested the tomatoes—which have double the shelf life of their red counterparts—could help fight cancer.

Right now, more than 300 gallons of purple tomato juice are poised to ship from Canada to the UK, where the purple tomato was invented and where its potential benefits will be further studied, the BBC reports. Martin turned to Canada to develop the product because of tighter EU rules on GM foods, she says. The plants are altered using a snapdragon gene that prompts them to develop anthocyanin, a purple pigment and antioxidant. "The most amazing thing is the potential to supply an expensive compound from nature more economically to large markets for food, livestock feed, cosmetics, food colorings, and even pharmaceuticals," says the CEO of the farms growing the tomatoes. (Read more tomatoes stories.)

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