Originally published October 31 2008
Purple GMO Tomato Inferior to Nature's Offerings
by Ethan Huff
(NaturalNews) In what appears to be an attempt at softening the public`s attitude toward genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), British scientists have engineered a purple tomato, rich in antioxidants, by splicing certain genes from the snapdragon flower with those of a tomato in order to create a "super tomato" that they say may fight cancer. Cancer-prone mice that lacked the p53 gene, also called the "genome guardian", were fed the altered tomatoes in a scientific study and were shown to live an average of 40 days longer than other p53-deficient mice on a standard diet. But do these findings tell the whole story?
Of the hundreds of worldwide sources that reported these findings, some honestly side-noted that natural tomatoes already have cancer-fighting properties, also mentioning that natural, unmodified fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, currants, and a host of other dark red and dark purple fruits already contain high levels of cancer-fighting anthocyanins. Others were not so forthright, shrouding nature in inferiority as this "franken-fruit" was hoisted to miracle status.
The study is clear and limited in its findings that this new fruit has been shown to lengthen the life-span of a group of cancer-prone mice as opposed to other cancer-prone mice not fed the fruit. The study did not investigate the long-term safety of genetically-modified foods, especially in human beings, and it was not tested alongside natural alternatives. It merely "discovered" what many health-minded people already know – that high levels of antioxidants are vital to maintaining health and preventing cancer cells from forming in the body. Yet reports of the study`s findings vary in exotic verbiage, describing the find as everything from a new treatment to help keep cancer "at bay", to celebrating it as a new possible cure for cancer. Still others glowingly endorsed it as a unique new form of cancer prevention, which was not part of the study at all. Why all the hype when we already have a myriad of cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables?
One writer begins her report on this study by declaring,
"Now that we have tried and failed to win the cancer war, it`s time to change our strategy. A new study suggests that eating a new genetically modified tomato may help prevent many types of cancer."
This same writer later contradicts herself by mentioning that natural fruits and vegetables with high levels of anthocyanins also provide protection against cancer (even though the cancer war has already been lost, according to the author), but states that it takes many more servings of these natural fruits and vegetables to achieve the same effective benefits of this genetically-modified tomato. But is this actually true? On what basis is she making this claim?
While it is true that the typical Western diet is deficient in nutritional foods, including antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, the conclusions drawn from this study by both the scientists who performed it and most of the journalists reporting on it are ultimately ill-informed and deceptive, favoring this engineered "fruit" that even the scientists themselves wouldn`t eat over natural fruits and vegetables that are readily available and far superior to anything that man creates in a lab.
The range of varying conclusions about this study all have the same incorrect common denominator, asserting that this new genetically-engineered tomato is a breakthrough in cancer prevention and treatment unlike anything currently available. Even those reports that admit the cancer-fighting properties of natural fruits and vegetables make the claim that this genetically-modified version has superior potency and effectiveness, discounting the comprehensive effectiveness of anything else in its natural, unadulterated form. These assumptions are clearly misguided and dangerous.
Interestingly, no mentions were made in any of the articles about natural, organic purple heirloom tomatoes that already exist, have high levels of anthocyanincs, and are perfectly safe and nutritious for both humans and mice.
Credit is due to the many reporters who did at least admit the cancer-fighting properties of fruits and vegetables in general, considering the FDA doesn`t even believe that food and nutrients play a role in health promotion and disease prevention. Yet all natural mentions were positioned as inferior in order to paint the picture that this new, genetically-modified tomato has unique cancer-fighting properties superior to its natural counterparts, a blatant lie. The presumptive belief that only man-made products are effective in the treatment, prevention, and cure of disease is a misconception that runs deep in conventional, nutritionally-illiterate thinking. In this case, writers around the world are reinforcing this lie while not-so-subtly plugging the "benefits" of GMOs to the public.
Speaking in regards to the supposed "positive effect" of the genetically-engineered purple tomato in the experiment, Cathie Martin, a plant biologist, said in a news release, "It is enormously encouraging to believe that by changing diet, or specific components in the diet, you can improve health in animals and possibly humans." Much like the altered tomato, this is hardly a breakthrough discovery; there are plenty of natural foods that will prevent, treat, and cure cancer without having to undergo dangerous genetic surgery.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no reason to fund and conduct the research, creation, and experimentation of a genetically-modified "super tomato" when we already have the real thing. Genetically-modified foods of any kind are dangerous, untested, and shouldn`t be touched with a ten foot pole. Thanks, but no thanks.
About the authorEthan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.
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