We know that some foods have medicinal properties. But what if it wasn’t nature that produced this? What if, for example, modified tomatoes were grown to treat hypertension? It turns out… it’s already being done.
Lowering the pressure
In Japan, tomatoes with an edited genome have begun to be sold. The fruits contain five times more γ-aminobutyric acid than conventional tomatoes. They are good for people with high blood pressure. Why? Because this acid can reduce high blood pressure.
Biologists have repeatedly tried to create better tomatoes. They artificially increased the levels of vitamins and antioxidants. For example, Chinese and French scientists tried. With plasmids they inserted a gene that increases their provitamin A content. They also increased the antioxidant carotenoid lycopene. Not only that. Thanks to CRISPR/Cas technology, tomatoes would last longer without losing their flavour.
In most countries, these modified tomatoes won’t make it to the shelves. Their cultivation and sale are strictly regulated. European investors are afraid to invest in genetically modified tomatoes.
The exception is Japan. The procedure is much simpler and faster. In late 2020 the company Sanatech Seeds applied to regulators for permission. They wanted to produce and sell their genetically engineered tomatoes, reports The Japan News.
Scientists based their new variety on tomatoes sicilian rouge. They are very popular with consumers. The modified ones contain up to five times more of this acid. How did they do it? They removed the genome responsible for inhibiting acid synthesis.
This compound not only serves as a neurotransmitter for the central nervous system. It also lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate.
Tomatoes modified to treat hypertension are just the first step. Scientists believe this could be applied to countless other purposes. Not only would it improve the taste of tomatoes. Now, it could also protect the health of diners.