Knack.be: Genetically engineered tomato food is healthy

10.12.2012

Knack.be: Genetically engineered tomato food is healthy (original tex in Dutch)

Published on 8 December 2012 by Dirk Draulans

A successful experiment that saw the beneficial health effects of eating genetically engineered tomatoes gets little attention.

The study showed the health benefits for mice that ate genetically modified tomatoes. Its findings were presented at a major scientific conference and thus were made (partly) publicly available.

The approach used to present this experiment is different from the way in which a French scientist recently showed his own experiment including shocking photographs of rats with heavy tumours developed, according to him, by the genetically modified maize they were fed.

Reporting on scientific research is highly selective and it is only some environmental organizations that continue to defend the French scientist

One analyst said that the share of biotech giant Monsanto actually increased after the controversy surrounding the French study. The study itself quickly disappeared from the spotlight - the public seems to be tired of this type of scaremongering. 

Yet too little counterweight is provided against such scary studies. It would be useful if the new experiment made the headlines and showed how the protein of the new tomato was manipulated so that it affected cholesterol more efficiently than the original tomato. Unfortunately, a picture of a healthy shiny tomato is not much of an eye-catcher.

This type of work shows the direct benefit to the consumer. For now, most applications of genetic modification provides benefits to the farmers in terms of cost savings from insecticides and herbicides use. 

Genetic modification will be important in the fight against world hunger - an estimated additional two million people will need to be fed by the middle of our century. This will be possible if technology advancements are allowed to cherish. It is now clear that organic farming alone will not be enough. 

The full article is available here (in Dutch)