purple tomatoes

The science is still contentious when it comes to GMOs. Genetically modified crops have been linked to serious environmental and human health problems. But they’re also supposedly taking us into the next generation of technology, science and farming. And now they can even prevent cancer?

That’s the claim from researchers out of the John Innes Centre in the UK, who have developed a “purple” tomato high in antioxidants found in a snapdragon plant that may be helpful in the global fight against cancer.

Medical Daily reports:

The purple tomato may help improve the nutritional value of meals from pizza to pasta, with another variety already under development for use in skin care products. The fruit’s color comes from high levels of anthocyanins, compounds found in blueberries, blackberries, and other dark-colored berries. Compared to nature’s tomato, the new plant shows anti-inflammatory benefits — also slowing the growth of soft-tissue carcinoma in laboratory mice genetically designed for cancer experimentation.

“We want to explore a way for consumers to benefit from our discoveries, as we are finding there is a demand for the added health benefits,” researcher Cathie Martin, told PhysOrg. “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.”

But GMOs notoriously are linked with health issues—including cancer—because of the excessive amounts of pesticides and herbicides used in production. Concerns also exist over whether or not the genetic modification itself, which often includes genes from other plant species, is a health risk.

So, it’s a technology that can—in theory, anyway—both cause and prevent cancer?

The researchers are hopeful that the purple tomato can help erode the prejudice against GMO technology. They’re seeking regulatory approval to sell purple tomato juice in the country within two years.

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Image: John Innes Centre