The Original Genetically Modified Tomato You'll Never Eat Again

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A supposed vegetable born of something called "Flavr Savr" seeds does not sound like anything that could possibly be good to put in your body. But back in 1994, a longer-lasting, better-tasting, and all around more aesthetically appealing tomato hit grocery shelves as the Flavr Savr food of tomorrow: the very first genetically engineered vegetable.

The main problem with your normal, everyday organically grown tomato is the fact that if you picked them when they were ripe and ready to be eaten, they'd lose firmness and appeal by the time they hit the appropriate market. So instead, most tomatoes were picked green and ripened artificially, which can make them taste pretty awful. With genetic engineering, though, scientists could turn off that pesky little gene that makes them go soft, theoretically giving way to big, beautiful tomatoes that could stay fresh and firm for over a month.

But of course, with raging hard tomatoes come public cries of concern. Even though Calgene—the company behind the Flavr Savr tomato—sought FDA approval and had a product that the public loved, the media along with other scientists were skeptical of such a new, genetically modified product. Eventually Calgene sold to larger company Monsanto, who eventually shelved the Flavr Savr but still makes billions in the genetically modified food market.


But where Calgene explicitly labeled their altered tomatoes, Monsanto took over huge markets of staple crops without marking any of their products as genetically modified. And that lack of transparency is what many believe has to lead to the GMO aversion you'll so often see today. Because the truth is, there's no widely accepted research proving that genetically modifying vegetables is any more harmful (if even harmful at all) than crossbreeding genuses—something farmers do every day.

Plus, hey, it's still better than tomacco. [Retro Report]