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Scientists genetically engineer tomatoes with enhanced folate content

Food and Drug Administration made it mandatory that many grain productssuch as rice, flour and cornmeal be enriched with a synthetic form of folate known as folic acid.

Folate deficiencies remain a problem in many underdeveloped countries, however, where adding folic acid is impractical or simply too expensive.

"There are even folate deficiency issues in Europe, where addition of folic acid to foods has not been very widely practiced," Gregory said. "Theoretically, you could bypass this whole problem by ensuring that the folate is already present in the food."

Will doctors be recommending a healthy dose of salsa for would-be pregnant women anytime soon? Probably not, the researchers say.

"It can take years to get a genetically-engineered food plant approved by the FDA," Hanson said. "But before that is even a question, there are many more studies to be done--including a better look at how the overall product is affected by this alteration."

And there is another hurdle the researchers must clear. Boosting the production of folate in tomatoes involved increasing the level of another chemical in the plant, pteridine. Little is known about this chemical, which is found in virtually all fruits and vegetables.


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Source:National Science Foundation


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