Scientists to Make Better-Tasting Tomatoes Using Genome

August 30, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. shelf-life (n.) 
[shelf lahyf] – the length of time a product can be stored without losing quality
Example: People should keep food with long shelf-lives in preparation for emergencies.

2. compromise (v.) [kom-pruh-mahyz] – to reduce in quality or value
Example: The lack of budget for good materials compromised the strength of the product.

3. dictate (v.) [dik-teyt, dik-teyt] – to control
Example: The weather will dictate whether the sports event will continue.

4. breeding (n.) [bree-ding] – the process of making plants or animals produce offspring
Example: The breeding of different varieties of vegetables is commonly practiced by food companies.

5. precise (adj.) [pri-sahys– very exact in amount or value
Example: After carefully following instructions, the students’ experiment produced precise results.

Read the text below.

Tastier tomatoes may soon be available in the market after a team of scientists from different countries has successfully analyzed the genome of the fruit, making it possible to produce tomatoes with richer flavor.

Scientists in the past worked on lengthening the shelf-life of tomatoes to prevent tomatoes from quickly ripening. Since then, many varieties of tomatoes with long shelf-lives have been produced and marketed.

However, long shelf-life has compromised the color and flavor of the tomatoes. Since ripening is slowed down, the tomatoes’ color and flavor do not completely develop, and they no longer look or taste as good as home-grown tomatoes.

Now that the scientists have analyzed the tomato genome, they can work on finding which specific genes dictate only the flavor and color of the tomato.  They can then produce a variety of tomatoes that can last for a long time but is full of phytochemicals, has a dark red color and has richer taste.

With information about the genome now available, scientists and tomato producers can also use traditional breeding techniques to produce precise results more quickly.

These techniques are different from genetic modification. Scientists tried making a genetically modified tomato called “Flavr Savr” in the 1990s. Although it was considered safe to eat, the public worried about the effect of genetic modification. The product did not last long on the market.

The new, more flavorful varieties of tomatoes, on the other hand, are expected to have major impact in the global tomato industry, which is worth of $30 to $40 billion yearly.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Would you buy food that has been genetically modified? Why or why not?
·         How do you think technology has changed the way we make food?

Discussion B
·         What do you think is the purpose of breeding other varieties of fruits and vegetables?
·         Do you think having different varieties of food is necessary? Why or why not?

August 30, 2012