Posted on 22 October 2007 by

Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Fight Birth Defects and Anemia

Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Fight Birth Defects and Anemia

By Michelle Fabio

Scientists have come up with a way to infuse a full day’s worth of folate, a vitamin essential for healthy growth during early pregnancy, into a single tomato serving.

The tomato was developed at the University of Florida at Gainesville by Andrew Hanson and Jesse Gregory. “This could potentially be beneficial worldwide,” said Hanson. “Now that we’ve shown it works in tomatoes, we can work on applying it to cereals and crops for less developed countries where folate deficiencies are a very serious problem.”

In children, folate deficiencies have been linked to birth defects, slow growth rates and developmental problems, while in adults, low folate levels have been associated with anemia.

In the United States, since many people don’t eat enough of natural suppliers of folate–leafy green vegetables such as spinach–in 1998 the Food and Drug Administration instituted the enrichment of many grain products with a synthetic form of folate (folic acid).

But folate deficiencies are still a problem in many underdeveloped countries, and this new tomato could be the answer

Don’t expect to see it available in supermarkets anytime soon, though, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process is a long one.

But until then, what do you think about the genetically engineered tomato?

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