There are no genetically modified (GM) tomatoes grown or marketed in Britain.
All varieties grown in Britain have been produced by traditional breeding methods.
British growers aim to completely eliminate the use of chemical pesticides in the near future. No herbicides are used on British tomato crops, so genetic modification to produce herbicide resistant tomato plants is of no advantage to us.
A proposed benefit of genetically modified tomatoes could be in producing long-life, non-perishable fruit. This may be an attractive quality for overseas growers but not an issue for British growers. British tomatoes ripen on the plant, for optimum flavour and texture, and arrive in the shops in prime condition.
A proposed benefit of GM tomatoes is the production of fruit with a higher nutrient content. It is already possible to do this by conventional means, such as the choice of variety and by harvesting and eating fruit when fresh and fully ripe. GM tomatoes have been produced with higher levels of beta-carotene, a potential advantage, but they may contain lower levels of lycopene, a distinct disadvantage. Purple tomatoes, containing elevated levels of the purple pigment anthocyanin have also been produced but this ingredient (along with conventionally produced purple tomatoes) is readily available in other foods, such as blueberry and beetroot. The best advice is to eat a variety of naturally produced fruit and vegetables with a range of complimentary beneficial ingredients. It is true to say that tomatoes probably contain a wider range of these health enhancing constituents than any other fresh produce.
The Tomato Growers' Association believes that decisions as important as the use of genetically modified material in foods should be made by society in general, not by producers. Consumers should be able to make informed choices on these matters.
Did You Know?
In the UK, we eat 6oz (160g) of fresh tomatoes per person per week. This is the equivalent of two classic British tomatoes per week, or more than 100 per year - very low compared with other European countries, especially those in the Mediterranean region.