New Study On Tomatoes Addresses GM Biochemical Concerns

Does genetic manipulation cause unintended changes in food quality and composition? Are genetically modified (GM) foods less nutritious than their non-GM counterparts, or different in unknown ways?

Despite extensive cultivation and testing of GM foods, those questions still linger in the minds of many consumers. A new study in the March issue of The Plant Genome demonstrates a potentially more powerful approach to answering them.

In research led by Owen Hoekenga, a Cornell University adjunct assistant professor, scientists extracted roughly 1,000 biochemicals, or “metabolites,” from the fruit of tomatoes. These tomatoes had been genetically engineered to delay fruit ripening — a common technique to help keep fruits fresher longer. The researchers then compared this “metabolic profile” from the GM fruit to the profile of its non-GM variety.

Extracting and analyzing hundreds of metabolites at once gives researchers a snapshot of the fruit’s physiology, which can be compared against others.

When the scientists compared the biochemicals of the GM tomato and a wide assortment of other non-GM tomatoes, including modern and heirloom varieties, they found no significant differences overall. Thus, although the GM tomato was distinct from its parent, its metabolic profile still fell within the “normal” range of biochemical diversity exhibited by the larger group of varieties. However, the biochemicals related to fruit ripening did show a significant difference — no surprise because that was the intent of the genetic modification.

The finding suggests little or no accidental biochemical change due to genetic modification in this case, as well as a “useful way to address consumer concerns about unintended effects” in general, Hoekenga says.

He explains that FDA already requires developers of GM crops to compare a handful of key nutritional compounds in GM varieties relative to their non-GM parents. The process is designed to catch instances where genetic manipulation may have affected nutritional quality, for example.

Moreover, comparing a GM variety to diverse cultivars can help scientists and consumers put into context any biochemical changes that are observed. “We accept that there isn’t just one kind of tomato at the farmer’s market. We look for diverse food experiences,” Hoekenga says. “So we think that establishing the range of acceptable metabolic variability [in food] can be useful for examining GM varieties.”

The process was expensive, and the chemistry methods can’t yet be used in official safety assessments, Hoekenga acknowledges. Making statistical comparisons of metabolic “fingerprints” is no easy task. In their study, Hoekenga’s group adapted a style of statistics used in other research.

But the techniques don’t apply only to tomato. “The method can be applied to any plant or crop,” Hoekenga says. “We’ve made something fundamentally useful that anyone can use and improve on.”

When crossing parent plants, for example, breeders often like to track the genes underlying their trait of interest, such as resistance to a pathogen. That’s because pinpointing offspring that carry the right genes is often faster and easier than examining plants for the trait itself.

But sometimes, so many genes contribute to a single trait that figuring out which genes are involved in the first place becomes onerous. This is where Hoekenga thinks his style of research and analysis might one day help. “We’re trying to describe at the biochemical level what might be responsible for a trait. And from that, you could extract genetic information to use in breeding.”

For more information, the full article can be found at: https://www.crops.org/story/2014/apr/thu/a-new-approach-to-detecting-unintended-changes-in-gm-foods

Source: The Crop Science Society of America news release

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “New Study On Tomatoes Addresses GM Biochemical Concerns

  1. Apparently, all this study says is that a genetically modified tomato is still a tomato. Since ripening is a key element to the nutritional benefits of tomatoes, I wonder did they compare unripe tomaotes to unripe tomatoes? That would not be a useful comparison. Furthermore, what does it meant to say that the ripening biochems are different. That could be an extremely important negative that is just glossed over. From what I can see, this study is useless other than to show that the GM tomato is not a “monster” with unintended chems in it. Finally, it’s the GM foods that grow or allow systemic chemicals (RoundUp and Bt etc) that are really harmful. Considering that no one has studied the long-term effects of RoundUp and Bt ingestion on humans, the crops and products of such crops should be clearly labeled as contaiing RoundUp and Bt (as well as all systemic pesticides used in crop production).

  2. As long as the GM industries and researchers continue to use the phrase “no significant differences” without listing the insignificant differences the public will continue to be sceptical of the work. What is it you people don’t understand about open and comprehensive when it comes to explaining the science? You make the same mistakes over and over again and wonder why the public is suspicious. They have a long history of poor corporate science to to go by that was proven wrong over time causing uncountable harm and death and you still can’t seem to get it right.
    Based on Einstein’s premise it is not insanity to do the same work over and over again expecting a different outcome it is stupidity. Get it right will you.

Tomatoes Stories
a plate full of cherry tomatoes
Tomatoes
December 12, 2016
Gene Editing Produces Tomatoes That Ripen Weeks Earlier
Using CRISPR, researchers may have devised a way to adapt varieties to grow in regions they typically don’t thrive. Read More
Profile picture of a group of Mariana tomatoes
Tomatoes
October 25, 2016
4 Tasty Tomatoes Guaranteed To Tempt Consumers
Scan a slideshow of images to find out what new selections are specially suited for the Sunshine State. Read More
Crop Protection
October 25, 2016
Vegetable Grafting Facility Gears Up For Increased Production
The Tri-Hishtil vegetable grafting facility in North Carolina hopes to double grafted plant production by next year. Read More
Tomatoes
October 13, 2016
Lipman Launches Crimson Campaign For Tomatoes
The deep-red color raises the level of lycopene, a health benefit and it also helps to extend shelf life in the fruit. Read More
Protected Agriculture
October 12, 2016
NatureFresh Farms Launches OhioRed Tomato Program
The greenhouse operation also was named a PMA Impact Award Finalist. Read More
farm labor pic for web
Labor
October 12, 2016
Labor Shortages Mean Lost Income
Agriculture is not a typical industry; fresh produce can't wait in the field for a crew to come and harvest it. Read More
Tomatoes
September 21, 2016
Noxious Weed Detected In Processing Tomato Field In California
The infested field was placed on hold and appropriate safeguards were implemented to prevent the movement of seeds on equipment and personnel leaving the field. Read More
The Latest
Disease Control
January 19, 2017
Clues Found to Block Late Blight’s…
With food security at stake, breakthrough in genetic research could help prevent more strains of the deadly pathogen from entering the U.S. Read More
Crop Protection
January 10, 2017
New Research May Help in the Fight Again…
The findings depict the first time that a viral effector protein has been seen as attracting insect vectors to feed on plants through odor.  Read More
Cucurbits
December 20, 2016
3 New Fungicide Product Options for Vege…
Unique modes of action the main feature of modern chemistries. Read More
Tomatoes
December 12, 2016
Gene Editing Produces Tomatoes That Ripe…
Using CRISPR, researchers may have devised a way to adapt varieties to grow in regions they typically don’t thrive. Read More
Tomatoes
October 25, 2016
4 Tasty Tomatoes Guaranteed To Tempt Con…
Scan a slideshow of images to find out what new selections are specially suited for the Sunshine State. Read More
Crop Protection
October 25, 2016
Vegetable Grafting Facility Gears Up For…
The Tri-Hishtil vegetable grafting facility in North Carolina hopes to double grafted plant production by next year. Read More
Tomatoes
October 13, 2016
Lipman Launches Crimson Campaign For Tom…
The deep-red color raises the level of lycopene, a health benefit and it also helps to extend shelf life in the fruit. Read More
Protected Agriculture
October 12, 2016
NatureFresh Farms Launches OhioRed Tomat…
The greenhouse operation also was named a PMA Impact Award Finalist. Read More
Labor
October 12, 2016
Labor Shortages Mean Lost Income
Agriculture is not a typical industry; fresh produce can't wait in the field for a crew to come and harvest it. Read More
Tomatoes
September 21, 2016
Noxious Weed Detected In Processing Toma…
The infested field was placed on hold and appropriate safeguards were implemented to prevent the movement of seeds on equipment and personnel leaving the field. Read More
Cucurbits
September 21, 2016
Don’t Let White Grubs Gobble Up Yo…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this pest. Read More
Production
September 6, 2016
NatureFresh Farms Hits A New Level For …
The company's Ohio-grown greenhouse tomatoes hit the marketplace as phase two and three of a state-of-the-art facility are being completed. Read More
Farm Management
August 6, 2016
The Path To Food Safety
Three growers of various sizes offer tips on how they comply with food safety protocols while giving their customers what they want. Read More
Production
August 2, 2016
SARE Grant Expands Tomato Research In Hi…
Researchers in New Hampshire receive grant to expand research for tomato nutrient and pest management in high tunnels. Read More
Crop Protection
August 2, 2016
New Technology Reduces Transplant Shock …
Product from AgroFresh Solutions is designed to help with faster crop establishment. Read More
Tomatoes
July 25, 2016
New Research Uncovers Gene That May Be K…
Scientists identify a gene that encodes an enzyme which plays a pivotal role in controlling tomato softening. Read More
Equipment
July 6, 2016
Options In Harvest Mechanization For Veg…
Depending on your goals, labor-saving devices are available to just about any grower, big or small. Two growers and an equipment manufacturer discuss the kinds of things you can do — and what it will mean for your production. Read More
Protected Agriculture
June 20, 2016
NatureFresh Farms Is A Winner In Greenho…
The greenhouse grower takes home top awards in four categories in the Greenhouse Vegetable Competition held each year during the Leamington Fair in Ontario, Canada. Read More