(NaturalNews) The first commercially available, genetically modified crop was the tomato, which first made its debut in the United States in 1994 but which disappeared soon after under a cloud of controversy. New, giant breeds of GM tomatoes; however, are set to make a comeback at a grocery store near you, but not without most of the same old health issues.
According to a report from PreventDisease.com, this early form of GM tomato failed to live up to expectations because the bioengineered modifications did not deliver as promised. The early forms included the transgenic tomato (the "FlavrSavr"), which contained a "deactivated" gene which prevented the tomato plant from producing polygalacturonase, an enzyme involved in fruit softening.
"The premise," writes April McCarthy, "was that tomatoes could be left to ripen on the vine and still have a long shelf life, thus allowing them to develop their full flavor. Normally, tomatoes are picked well before they are ripe and are then ripened artificially."
They didn't work that way; however. Though they were approved for sale in the U.S. and a number of other countries, these early delayed-ripening tomatoes peaked in the marketplace in 1998, but then disappeared from supermarkets.
Rollout into grocery stores is expected
The new biogenetic push these days is to grow GM tomatoes which produce a peptide "that mimics the actions of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) that biotechnology groups are promoting to supposedly reduce heart disease," McCarthy writes.
The effort is being led by Dr. Alan Fogleman, a professor and researcher at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). In a recent study, he supposedly found that consumption of GM tomatoes result in a reduction of plaque build-up in arteries.
"To our knowledge this is the first example of a drug with these properties that has been produced in an edible plant and is biologically active when fed without any isolation or purification," he said.
No timeline has been established for introducing these tomatoes in stores because research is still being conducted, McCarthy wrote, but "the rollout into major grocery retailers is expected" nonetheless.
The UCLA team modified tomatoes to produce 6F, a small peptide that mimics the action of ApoA-1, the main protein of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Fogelman and his research team then fed the tomatoes to mice that did not have the ability to remove LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, from their blood, which meant they developed inflammation and atherosclerosis when eating a high-fat diet.
Similar gene modification techniques; however, were devised for GM foods that were linked to the formation of tumors in a long-term and widely publicized study on GM corn-fed rats.
"The first lifetime trials involving rats fed on GM corn found a raised incidence of breast tumors, liver and kidney damage," Britain's Daily Mail reported.
Said Dr. Michael Antoniou, a molecular biologist at King's College, in London, who helped conduct the study: "It shows an extraordinary number of tumors developing earlier and more aggressively - particularly in female animals. I am shocked by the extreme negative health impacts."
The study, which was led by molecular biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, a critic of GM technology, and published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, said the GM corn and Roundup weedkiller "may cause hormonal disturbances in the same biochemical and physiological pathway."
Other scientists share similar concerns about the safety of GM foods.
"The problem remains as with all GM techniques, that we simply don't know what the long-term effects of consuming such foods will be since short-term studies can never tell us," says Prof. Thomas Tranter, a researcher and geneticist, in summing up that concern.