Dodgy Gene Edited Tomato and white elephants

Gene-edited tomato is expensive and unnecessary

A gene-edited tomato engineered to contain high levels of a sedative substance called GABA has been approved for commercialisation in Japan without any safety checks and amid opposition from consumer rights campaigners.

Interestingly, the tomato, developed by Sanatech Seed, doesn't come cheap. According to a Twitter post by a Japanese scientist who bought some for research purposes: "Just ordered a box of 3kg for the lab (approx 70 USD, though)", followed by an emoji of a face screaming in shock. Seventy USD converts to around 51 GBP.

Compare this with organic tomatoes, which currently in the UK cost only 22.5 GBP for 3kg from the Tomato Stall company. A GMWatch subscriber pointed out that at farmers’ markets you can buy 3kg of organic tomatoes from the same company for only 20 GBP. That's less than half the price of the gene-edited GMO tomatoes.

And if you want to boost your GABA levels, there's no need to resort to a novel genetically engineered food, like gene-edited tomatoes. According to a health products website, there are proven effective ways to do this naturally and cheaply. Some even come free. They are:  

1) De-stress with yoga or meditation
2) Exercise
3) Eat natural foods that contain GABA or support its production in the body. Such foods include aged, cured, and preserved foods, including cheeses and meats; beans and lentils; slow-cooked meats; eggs; mushrooms; broccoli; and walnuts
4) Use certain herbs that can increase GABA levels
5) Buy a GABA supplement.

We conclude that the gene-edited tomato is yet another GMO "white elephant" product: A "solution" looking for a problem, and a very expensive "solution" at that.


Image of white elephants by Franzisko Hauser via Flickr. Reproduced under licence: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)