This Purple Fruit Could Hit Stores Next Year

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The store shelves are lined with a variety of unusual fruit, from strawberries tasting like tropical punch to grapes that taste like cotton candy. But among all of them, this most recent invention could be the most bizarre.

It has given the thumbs-up to a genetically altered purple tomato created by a group of researchers from Norfolk Plant Sciences in Norwich, England.

Purple tomatoes are "likely to represent an elevated plant pest risk compared to other cultivated tomatoes," according to the USDA, but they "may be safely produced and used for breeding in the United States."

Tomatoes are nutrient-dense. The fruits were bred to be abundant in antioxidant-rich anthocyanins, which give blueberries and blackberries their deep colours.

Cathie Martin, a professor at the University of East Anglia and project leader at the John Innes Centre, introduced the anthocyanin-rich purple tomato in 2008.

Martin, who has spent more than 20 years studying how plants produce colour, utilised a genetic "on switch" from snapdragon plants to construct the fruit and got encouraging results.

Along with discovering that cancer-prone mice who had the purple tomatoes lived around 30% longer than those who consumed regular tomatoes, she and her colleagues also found that purple tomatoes had a longer shelf life than red tomatoes.

According to Nathan Pumplin, CEO of Norfolk Plant Sciences' U.S.-based commercial business, the purple tomato will likely be widely available by 2023.

This is amazing; I never imagined I'd live to see this day. We are now one step closer to realising my ambition of giving nutritious purple tomatoes to the many eager eaters.

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