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Source: Thomas Martinsen

Scientists Have Genetically Engineered The 'Perfect' Tomato

By Nicole Caldwell

Every backyard gardener knows that to get the best, biggest, and most delicious homegrown tomatoes, you need to prune your plants. As the growing season progresses, tomato plants invest energy into growing new leaves and fruit. But late-season “suckers”— stems growing off a tomato’s main trunk—take a lot of energy away from the plant itself. That can lead to less flavorful, smaller fruits overall. 

Gardeners with the time and inclination will clip suckers that emerge near the top of a tomato plant (sugar concentrations are highest lower on the plant), as well as any suckers appearing midway through the growing season or later; thereby allowing earlier fruits to develop fully. But scientists may have found a way to get rid of all that extra work: by using genetic editing to put an end to extraneous, vestigial branching and flowering.

Genetic engineering isn’t exactly what you think it is.

Genetic engineering of crops didn’t start with Monsanto. Actually, we’ve been adjusting plant genes since we domesticated crops thousands of years ago. A GMO, or genetically modified organism, or GMO, is any animal, organism or plant that has been manipulated through genetic engineering—even selective breeding, which is a form of genetic modification that doesn’t involve the addition of outside genetic material.