The First Genetically Engineered Food Reaches Supermarkets (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: Calgene, Incorporated, marketed the Flavr Savr tomato, the first genetically engineered food product available to the U.S. consumer.
Summary of Event
In May, 1994, Calgene, Incorporated, marketed the Flavr Savr tomato, the first genetically engineered food made available to the U.S. consumer. Development and marketing of the tomato involved eight years of research and testing, $20 million in costs, and nearly four years of review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA’s safe ruling on the Flavr Savr, a test case for the agribiotech industry, signaled the feasibility of marketing other genetically engineered foods that had already been developed and field tested. Fear of the effects of genetically engineered foods on consumer health and the environment generated a storm of protest during this period.
The Flavr Savr tomato differed from other tomatoes in that it had been genetically engineered to ripen more slowly. This gave it a significant advantage because the tomato could remain on the vine until it had begun to ripen yet be marketed before it deteriorated. Although picked before fully ripe, it reddened naturally, without exposure to ethylene gas, and developed vine-ripened flavor and texture.
In the Flavr Savr, the production of polygalacturonase (PG), an enzyme that causes the pectin in tomato cell walls to break down, had been inhibited through genetic...
(The entire section is 2419 words.)
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