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Old June 10 2014, 08:26 PM   #1
gturner
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Location: Kentucky
Genetically engineered tomatoes

Why tomatoes taste bad

How the supermarket tomato lost its flavor

The demise of the tomato’s flavor started about seventy years ago when growers noticed that some tomatoes turned red from green uniformly when they ripened. Back then, most tomatoes had shoulders—a raised area near the depression where the tomato attaches to the stem—that turned red slower than the rest of the tomato. The green shoulders made it difficult for farmers to tell when the tomato was ready to harvest, and shoppers did not like the look of them either.

So when the uniformly colored tomatoes randomly appeared, tomato breeders realized its potential. The effect that caused the green shoulders to disappear was due to a random genetic mutation, which was dubbed the “uniform ripening” trait. Farmers began selecting seeds from the uniformly green tomatoes and crossing them with other uniformly green tomatoes to create the visually perfect commercial tomatoes that we have today.

Because of the rudimentary understanding of genetics at that time, neither farmers nor researchers knew that the “uniform ripening” trait came with a trade off; it also disabled a gene in a tomato that regulates chlorophyll. Ann Powell, a plant scientist at the University of California, Davis, and her research group recently reported in a 2012 Science article that the chlorophyll concentrated in the green shoulders also increased the level of flavor-creating sugars for tomatoes. When the tomatoes’ green shoulders were bred out, so were the chlorophyll and extra sugars—and the tomato’s flavor. And this mutation was ubiquitous; when Powell and her colleagues examined 25 commercial tomato varieties from all over the world, they found the uniform ripening flavor reducing mutation in all of them.
Genetic engineers are not only fixing the problem, they're adding all kinds of wonderful new traits.
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Old June 10 2014, 09:00 PM   #2
Relayer1
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

I only realised how totally tasteless tomatoes were when I purchased some heritage strain organic ones from a roadside smallholding in Cornwall.

They literally blew me away. Without exaggeration, they must have had at least ten times the flavour of even premium vine tomatoes from supermarkets. The taste was almost overpowering...
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Old June 10 2014, 09:21 PM   #3
gturner
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

In the meantime, though perhaps too late for this year's garden, we know to look for heirloom tomato varieties with those big unsightly shoulder ridges. Those are the ones with the flavor.
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Old June 11 2014, 01:59 AM   #4
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

And then sometime in the 23rd century a patrolling starship will run across a DY-100 class sleeper ship filled with ridgeless red tomatoes... (Captain BLT will take one look at their clothing and interior decoration and know right away that they have no taste.)
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Old June 11 2014, 02:27 AM   #5
gturner
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

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Old June 11 2014, 04:45 AM   #6
gturner
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

Also be on the lookout for Tasti-Lee tomatoes, which are already showing up in some supermarkets.

University of Florida research link
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Old June 11 2014, 12:37 PM   #7
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

Relayer1 wrote: View Post
They literally blew me away.
You post pretty good for a dead man.
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Old June 11 2014, 02:07 PM   #8
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
Relayer1 wrote: View Post
They literally blew me away.
You post pretty good for a dead man.
It was one helluva tomato!


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Old June 11 2014, 03:46 PM   #9
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

I wonder if they can introduce this trait into the smaller tomato varieties, like the Campari.
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Old June 11 2014, 04:41 PM   #10
gturner
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

I would think they could introduce it into any tomato variety.

I think the next hurdle is creating giant, intelligent, killer tomatoes.
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Old June 12 2014, 05:44 PM   #11
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

*ugh* Can't stand a lot of tomatoes these days these days . And tbh, I think a lot of it was caused by messing with them in the first place (genetically engineering them). They were good as is. Now they're just bland and mealy.
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Old June 12 2014, 07:45 PM   #12
Relayer1
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

Metryq wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
Relayer1 wrote: View Post
They literally blew me away.
You post pretty good for a dead man.
It was one helluva tomato!


(Excerpt from THE ROCKETEER by Dave Stevens)
What can I say, a GOOD tomato has miraculous properties !
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Old June 12 2014, 09:36 PM   #13
farmkid
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

Random_Spock wrote: View Post
And tbh, I think a lot of it was caused by messing with them in the first place (genetically engineering them). They were good as is. Now they're just bland and mealy.
Actually no, it wasn't genetic engineering that caused them to lose their taste. It was traditional breeding that caused that, and genetic engineering is being used to fix it. 70 years go, when this change first happened, as stated at the beginning, genetic engineering wasn't even close to possible.

I'll be interested to see how the anti-GMO crowd reacts to these tomatoes. They will be genetically modified to fix a gene that was damaged by traditional breeding and selection, so they will actually be more like heirloom varieties. Yet they will be GMOs.
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Old June 12 2014, 09:51 PM   #14
Relayer1
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

farmkid wrote: View Post
Random_Spock wrote: View Post
And tbh, I think a lot of it was caused by messing with them in the first place (genetically engineering them). They were good as is. Now they're just bland and mealy.
Actually no, it wasn't genetic engineering that caused them to lose their taste. It was traditional breeding that caused that, and genetic engineering is being used to fix it. 70 years go, when this change first happened, as stated at the beginning, genetic engineering wasn't even close to possible.

I'll be interested to see how the anti-GMO crowd reacts to these tomatoes. They will be genetically modified to fix a gene that was damaged by traditional breeding and selection, so they will actually be more like heirloom varieties. Yet they will be GMOs.
Replacing a tomato gene with, er, a tomato gene may be genetic modification, but hardly as contentious as using, say, an octopus gene.

Anyway, why bother ? Just reintroduce traditional tomato strains ?
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Old June 13 2014, 03:32 AM   #15
gturner
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Re: Genetically engineered tomatoes

The traditional strains were abandoned because of bruising problems, bad shape, and short shelf life, among other things. They didn't intend to lose the favor when they got rid of the other problems.
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