All the food – whether in the form of plants or animals – that we eat today has been modified from what it was thousands of years back. However, at present, geneticists, agronomists and scientists are genetically modifying the food in order to get the perfect qualities they desire. Such unnatural modifications do more harm than good and lab results have proved the same. However, GM or genetically modified foods are being improvised upon as they are created with the desired traits to resist various factors that lead to lesser yield. Hence, GM crops would eventually lead to better yield and minimal wastage of crops to pests, diseases, lack of water and so on. Given here are ten such genetically engineered fruits and vegetables.
1. Purple tomato with snapdragon gene to fight cancer
Researchers from UK have developed a hybrid purple-colored tomato by crossing it with the snapdragon flower, in order to give the tomato cancer-fighting properties. The tomatoes look as purple as an eggplant and comprise of huge amounts of antioxidant pigments known as anthocyanins. Research conducted through lab experiments on mice have shown that cancer-prone mice who were fed on these purple tomatoes, lived longer than their counterparts. The plant geneticist who engineered this development – Cathie Martin – states that there was a slight genetic modification involved as tomatoes are already rich in anthocyanins. As per the availability, it might take years of processing and clearance through regulations, before these purple tomatoes land up on supermarket shelves.
2. Hypo-allergenic GM tomatoes
A lot of people who suffer from food allergies, complain of sensitivity to tomatoes, hence scientists have developed a GM tomato that contains 90 percent less profilin, a small protein that leads to vegetable and fruit allergies. Tests were performed on 16 people having tomato allergies and the extracts of both the GM and the regular tomatoes were taken. The results showed that the patients responded more favorably to the GM tomato and they had lesser allergic reactions to the same.
3. Genetically engineered Golden Rice
Golden Rice is about two decades old and is orange in color. This rice was genetically modified in order to increase the extent of beta carotene – which is required by our body to make Vitamin A – and was expected to save the eyesight of children, who were deficient in Vitamin A, around the world. This rice was developed in India and was planned to be given free to farmers, however, the sad part is that this GM rice is yet to be made available in the markets as it has met with strong resistance against people who do not support GM crops.
4. Genetically modified bananas
The genetically modified bananas that have been developed in Uganda, are a solution to the bacterial disease called Xanthomonas wilt, which has been rotting banana plantations for long. Though a few trials of the GM banana have shown success, the Ugandan people are not resorting to the GM technology as yet.
Lematos are a cross breed between lemon and tomato. This combination has been achieved by Israeli researchers who have genetically altered lemon and tomato to produce a ‘lemato’ which is light red in color as it has lesser quantity of lycopene. This GM vegetable would have a longer shelf life and would require less pesticide for growing.
6. Genetically modified plums
The GM plum is a modified version of the Honeysweet plum that is able to resist the Plum pox – a virus that destroys the fruit. It is being said that once the C5 or the GM plum gets approved, then it will pave the way for genetically modifying other stone fruit varieties such as cherries, peaches, apricots and so on.
7. Genetically modified sugar beets
GM sugar beets are already being grown on land spanning more than a million acres in ten different states in the US. However, this crop may be the only one to be harvested, as the USDA is yet to submit its impact statement that would declare whether or not the crop can continue to be grown. This process would take a good three years, which would prove to be a major obstacle for the sugar beet producers as sugar beet produces half of the sugar supply in the United States.
8. Colorful carrots
Orange carrots contain a pigment called Xanthophylls, which helps improve eyesight whereas red carrots contain a pigment called lycopene, which is like carotene and is good for fighting some cancers and also good for the heart. Purple carrots get their color from anthocyanins which are rich antioxidants that guard the cells in the body. A carrot breeder called Philipp Simon from the ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wisconsin, has developed GM carrots in which the quantities of the various pigments has been altered to give carrots more nutritional benefits – and of course, different colors. However, these GM carrots are yet to catch on with the liking of people.
The graisin is a GM raisin that has been genetically modified to grow far larger than its actual size. The graisin has been developed at the National Institute of Genetics in Japan.
The Pluot is a cross between plum and an apricot and is a strongly flavored fruit that is rich in vitamin C and contains no cholesterol or sodium. The Pluots look like plums and come in many varieties that have their own names such as Dapple Dandy, Flavor Grenade etc. and are readily available in the market.