Canned tomato labels. lgsinden

We broke the tomato, and we’re using science to fix it

We’ve bred tomatoes for high productivity with no regard for their taste.

by John Timmer – Feb 19 2013, 8:30am EST

Thanks to decades of breeding, the modern agricultural tomato has a lot of properties that are great for farmers: the plants are incredibly productive, and the resulting tomatoes hold up well to shipping. Just one small problem: they are nearly tasteless. Heirloom tomato strains have become available precisely because people aren’t especially interested in the mass-produced, modern tomato.

In the words of a panel at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of science, we “broke” the tomato by allowing the plant breeders to respond to the needs of farmers, instead of the tomato’s end-users: consumers. As a result, their breeding has produced a product that most people don’t actually enjoy eating. And that’s a public health issue, given that tomato-rich diets have been associated with a variety of beneficial effects.

Fortunately, the panel featured a number of people who are trying to fix the tomato using up-to-date biochemistry and genetics.

Read more: We broke the tomato, and we’re using science to fix it | Ars Technica.

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