New Genetically Edited Tomatoes Could Be the Answer to World Hunger

Andrei Tapalaga

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Over 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficientMauro_B/Pixabay

As many countries feel the increased food prices caused by this global recession, people are becoming more aware of food waste and the importance of nutrition. Scientists are striving toward genetically editing foods in order to offer us the highest amount of nutrients. 

That is why scientists worldwide have gathered together and managed to design a new type of tomato that offers the same amount of vitamin D that you would get from two eggs or 28 grams of tuna fish. Low vitamin D levels affect 1 billion people across the planet

The human body usually absorbs vitamin D from sunlight. As newer generations are spending less time outside, the world is suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Over 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, and the numbers only keep rising. 

One of the main issues that the researchers focused on was the lack of vitamin D in foods and especially plants that contain very little to no sufficient nutrients. One of the major issues when it comes to world hunger it’s not only the lack of food but also the quality of food as it does not offer the needed nutrients for a sustainable lifestyle. 

Tomatoes don’t offer any vitamin D due to an enzyme that converts provitamin D3 into cholesterol. By altering this enzyme, the scientists were able to block this conversion so that tomatoes can accumulate provitamin D3. 

“Gene-editing tomatoes to accumulate provitamin D3 at levels above recommended dietary guidelines could result in better health for many especially as tomatoes are a widely accessible and readily eaten food,” (Quote by Guy Poppy, a professor of ecology at the University of Southampton.)

Foods high in vitamin D such as fish or red meat are expensive compared to tomatoes which are some of the cheapest vegetables found in supermarkets around the world. As pointed out by Dr. Jie Li, the first author of the study, this offers a great opportunity for more people to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet: 

“The provitamin D enriched tomatoes we have produced offer a much-needed plant-based source of the sunshine vitamin. That is great news for people adopting a plant-rich, vegetarian or vegan diet, and for the growing number of people worldwide suffering from the problem of vitamin D insufficiency.” (Quote by Dr. Jie Li)

The researchers behind this project believe that this is the first step toward solving world hunger. By offering this alternative the world would be better equipped to solve world hunger, with cheap foods that are more nutritious.

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