In 1994, a new "state of the art" tomato becomes the first genetically-altered food approved as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Tomato is 1st Genetically-Altered Food Approved by FDA
ANN CURRY, anchor: Controversy a swirling around an updated variety of the humble tomato. It’s called the flavor savor and it’s the first genetically altered food approved by the FDA. NBC’s Bob Kur reports.
BOB KUR reporting:
They're the latest thing in tomatoes. Their genes were altered to slow down rotting. And now that the FDA has pronounced them safe, they'll be shipped to stores in the West and Midwest within 10 days. They'll cost more, but they're supposed to arrive redder and more flavorful than what's for sale now. They won't have to be picked green and hard for shipping. The state-of-the-art tomato will be picked ripe and will soften slowly.
Mr. JEFFREY NEDELMAN (Grocery Manufacturers Of America): It will mean that during the winter months we will have a tomato that tastes like the one that you grow in your garden during the summer.
KUR: Still, just the thought of juggling tomato genes a lab scares some people.
KUR: One consumer group worries that gene-altered tomatoes could create bacteria resistant to antibiotics. But other likely opponents agreed with the FDA, that this new tomato, which will be labeled, appears safe.
Dr. MARGARET MELLON (Union Of Concerned Scientists): I am concerned, however, about all the genetically-engineered foods that will follow. They will not get the review that this tomato got.
KUR: Whatever the qualities of the new tomato, it's supposed to be much more appetizing than the ones that proved to be, pound for pound, stronger than car bumpers. Bob Kur, NBC News.
These days, we take the way our fruits and vegetables look for granted. When we're kids, we learn that carrots are orange, bananas are yellow, and eggplants are big and purple. And that's how we always think about them. But look back into history -- not even that far back -- and you'll find that the fruits and vegetables we eat today were, well, they were pretty different.