Tomatoes were the first genetically modified product to enter the US market in 1994 (GMO Compass, 2006). Tomatoes are among the most popular food products, but the producers as well as sellers experience problems with their storage and transportation since tomatoes rot quite fast. This means that tomatoes have to be harvested before they are ripe which results in a poor flavor. The genetically modified tomatoes does not produce an element that causes fruit softening, which allows to live them ripen in the sun. The results are better flavor, longer storage life, and better transportation (Bionet, 2002).
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Genetically modified tomatoes were approved in the US but were not approved in Europe, and soon disappeared from the market (GMO Compass, 2006). The major reason for this failure is, probably, the ambiguity of health effects of genetically modified foods. On the one hand, scientists managed to increase the amount of Vitamin A in genetically modified tomatoes three times; and Vitamin A helps prevent cancer and heart diseases (BBC News, 2000). On the other hand, there were genes that caused resistance to antibiotics, and if these genes are transmitted to people, they may cause serious problems in fighting infectious diseases, since human organism may also become resistant to antibiotics (Bionet, 2002). This defect was removed later but it did not help the product to win the market.
The problem is that there is a lack of research on the topic. Pusztai argues that even a few studies that were undertaken were not reliable enough. According to him, the evaluation of genetically modified tomatoes is questionable since “seven out of forty rats on GM tomatoes died within two weeks for unstated reasons”, which did not prevent the researchers from conclusion that genetically modified tomatoes are “substantially equivalent” to the natural ones (Pusztai, 2001). Therefore, the application of genetic engineering to tomatoes did not prove successful in terms of their sales. Scientists managed to increase the amount of Vitamin A and prevent fast rot but did not manage to make the product unquestionably safe. It is possible that the use of GM foods will cause negative effects in the long run.
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