ID-100208309When buying seeds for a veggie garden this spring the question we all will have on our mind is could I possibly be buying GMO seeds for my garden?   Thankfully there are a number of seed companies that have GMO Policies such as Burpee.  On the website it states that “Burpee has never bought or sold GMO seeds, and we have no intention of doing so in the future.” and it also states on the website that they have been NON-GMO since 1876.  We all are very thankful for companies like Burpee that have policies in place to protect consumers and seeds.  Many of our favorite veggies have been going GMO which is very concerning.   Take for example the tomato.
We all love our tomatoes so much that the world eats billions worth of them annually.  Did you know that a British Company is working on a GMO purple tomato?   A small British company is planning to apply for U.S. permission to produce and sell a new genetically modified variety that will have high levels of anthocyanins.   News source

Gardeners already grow conventional purple tomatoes.  The purple tomato is antioxidant rich with anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins are found in many fruits and vegetables including raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, plums, black grapes, red onions and red cabbage.  There are naturally bred purple tomato varieties available.  One of which is the Indigo Rose variety (conventionally) developed by Oregon State University.

Indigo Tomato

Anthocyanins studies show that this compound can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  In one study using purple, high-anthocyanin tomatoes in the diet of cancer-prone mice they extended the life-span by 30%.  This has resulted in world-wide recognition that anthocyanins are important to health.  Reference Source.

If purple tomatoes full of anthocyanins are bred naturally what’s the real reason a GMO version is being worked on?

You’ll find it interesting that the first genetically engineered crop to market in 1994 was a tomato, it was the Flavr Savr tomato to be exact. The company’s researchers inhibited a gene that produces a protein that makes a tomato get squishy.  The company also voluntarily labelled the tomatoes as GM.  The company that created this tomato was bought out by much larger Monsanto, a leading producer of genetically engineered seed.  Check out this article in the New York Times.  Demand for this product was high and remained high, but the product was never profitable because of high production and distribution costs.

Historical Hungarian Tomato Variety: 10 Different Variety 100+ Seeds in ONE Set NON GMO !

If you haven’t read the book “Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit” it worth checking out.  The author of the book is Barry Estabrook and the book is based on the James Beard’s Award winning article “The Price of Tomatoes”.  Without saying to much this book reveals a side of the tomato you never knew about.  You will discover surprises in this book through this investigative report with a controversial look at the tomato.  The part of the book that is really heart breaking and eye opening is when you read the story about what the chemicals have done to mothers that work in the tomato fields and their children. This book will make you even more mindful of where your tomato is coming from and will hopefully encourage people to look at buying organic and local.  See the ugly side of the tomato agriculture business exposed in this book.

What the Publisher Says

Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award–winning article, “The Price of Tomatoes,”investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with  more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but produces fruits with a fraction of the calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, and fourteen tiimes as much sodium as the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point?

Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, a.k.a. the tomato capital of the United States. He visits the laboratories of seedsmen trying to develop varieties that can withstand the rigors of agribusiness and still taste like a garden tomato, and then moves on to commercial growers who operate on tens of thousands of acres, and eventually to a hillside field in Pennsylvania, where he meets an obsessed farmer who produces delectable tomatoes for the nation’s top restaurants.

Throughout Tomatoland, Estabrook presents a Who’s Who cast of characters in the tomato industry: The avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color, and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; the United States attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade; the Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents’ medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years.

Tomatoland reads like a suspenseful whodunit and an exposé of today’s agribusiness systems and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.

TomatoLand Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; Reprint edition (April 24, 2012)

 

Kid Enjoying Pasta And Watermelon Juice Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net