Super-healthy tomatoes showcase genetic meddling’s sunny side.

Scientific American celebrates a bumper crop of super-healthy tomatoes, thanks to genetic modification:

A single tomato of the new variety contains the same amount of resveratrol as 50 bottles of red wine, or the same amount of genistein (a compound found in soy beans that is thought to have health benefits) as 2.5kg of tofu. As tomato plants grow quickly and produce a lot of fruit, farming this new variety could be a way to produce these nutrients in industrial quantities much more cheaply than synthesising them chemically, or extracting small amounts from other plant sources.

The variety was made by introducing a gene from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana—called AtMYB12—into the tomato genome. The gene codes for a transcription factor that binds to the promoter regions of genes encoding various metabolic enzymes. ‘In Arabidopsis [the] MYB12 [transcription factor] regulates the production of flavonols … which are important in UV protection and signalling,’ says Cathie Martin, who led the study at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK.

So they’re not thinking of tomatoes as food so much as tomatoes as a factory….