A Look at Genetically Engineered Vegetables

A behind-the-scenes investigation of genetically engineered plants.

| February/March 1995

  • 148-055-01
    Plant geneticist John Stommel is trying to breed an orange tomato with higher beta-carotene content.
  • 148-054-02
    The trend in gardening is towards more variety.
  • 148-056-01
    Seeds of the world's most unusual lettuces are safeguarded in an ARS gene bank in Salinas, CA.

  • 148-055-01
  • 148-054-02
  • 148-056-01

A meal of soup and salad is a healthy pairing—but either component can get boring very quickly. A bowl of red lentil soup might be more exciting, though. Or how about a tossed salad of bright orange tomatoes, chocolate-colored bell pepper rings, and wedges of blue lettuce garnished with maroon carrot curls? If that sounds more like your kind of meal, then you'll love what agricultural researchers have in store for you.

"The trend in gardening—both home and commercial—is toward more and more variety," says Larry Kampa, Advertising Manager at Petoseed Company, Inc., a commercial hybrid vegetable breeding corporation. "The selection in size, shape, and color will only get broader."

Though maroon carrots are still under development, seeds are available to home gardeners for many varieties of vegetables you won't see in the supermarket any time soon. Petoseed Company, which sells its seeds for home gardening through consumer seed companies like Burpee, is especially proud of two American Award Selections it introduced in 1994: the "Big Beef" tomato and "Fanfare," a hybrid cucumber. Fanfare produces a large, better quality yield on compact vines, while Big Beef combines good taste and continuous setting with uniform size.

Taste, shape, and most recently, color variations make the new generation of vegetables as much a coffee table accessory as part of the afternoon meal. "Purple Blush" is an eggplant with a lavender shading on white skin and a sweeter taste, while "Roly Poly" zucchini is a round squash the size of a grapefruit. Giant peppers like "Great Stuff" and "Peto Wonder" contrast beautifully with curious miniatures like "Jingle Bells" (sweet pepper) and "Bambino" eggplant.

New Strawberry Varieties

The USDA's Agricultural Research Service has recently released two new strawberry varieties, "Redgem" and "Bountiful." They retain much more of their original shape, color, and texture after being frozen than most other strawberries available to home gardeners, and are especially suited for preserves or for adding to pies, ice cream, and other foods.

All these new varieties represent the bottom line for plant research: an improved product. For example, one of the few nice things you can say about commercial tomatoes shipped for market across the country is that their size is uniform. Many homegrown tomatoes, such as the beefsteak, have been "rough"—oddly shaped, short, or squat. With "Big Beef," researchers at Petoseed maintain the taste of the beefsteak, while introducing a uniform size. Other products cater to the nation's requirements for compactness, disease resistance, flavor, and eye appeal.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters