Norwich scientists are on the brink of harvesting their first crop of genetically modified purple tomatoes.
Said to be packed with health benefits that outstrip those of the run-of-the-mill red tomato, the fruit are being harvested in Ontario, Canada.
According to the British Tomato Growers' Association, tomatoes are already the fourth most popular fruit in the UK, after
bananas, apples and oranges, and the UK market is worth around £625 million a year.
While traditional tomatoes are a good source of fibre, vitamins and lycopene, GM purple tomatoes have the additional benfit of containing anthocyanins, claim scientists from the John Innes Centre.
These purple, red or blue pigments occur naturally in berries such as blackberry and blueberry and could offer protection against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and age-related degenerative diseases when consumed as part of your diet.
Scientists hope to produce 2000 litres of purple tomato juice and begin the process of bringing a commercial juice to market.
“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,” says JIC’s Professor Cathie Martin.
JIC scientists predict that the juice may be available in as little as two years in North America.