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Tomatoes to get back its tanginess; scientist found out long lost genetic traits

Supermarket tomatoes could get back their long lost tanginess which had been missing in the commercially cultivated fruit for the past five decades. Researches at University of Florida claims to have found out five genetic traits that have been missing since the mass production of tomatoes that happened in 1960’s. The genetic traits that add sweet-yet-acidic taste were mostly missing in the fruit one gets to buy in the supermarkets. They assert this to be a natural breeding method rather than genetic modification.

Harry Klee, horticultural scientist and co-author of a study in University of Florida’s journal Science said: “We know what’s wrong with modern tomatoes and we have a pretty good idea how to fix it. Nobody deliberately set out to make tomatoes that don’t have flavor. Basically it was a process of neglect.”

Even as the produce of tomatoes tripled since 1960, the taste and quality has suffered a lot. Mass production focuses on size and sturdiness and provides inattention to flavor. Klee expressed hope in bringing back the lost flavors through the current findings. If the major seed producers are willing to adopt the new technology, one could buy the flavorful sweet and sour tomatoes in supermarkets within three years, the research says.

Research also found that tomatoes lost 13 genes that enhanced its flavor during the last century. The bigger the tomatoes get, the lesser they taste. Klee added: “Modern commercial tomatoes do not have the flavour of older varieties. Our results provide a roadmap for improvement.”

Many supermarkets were accused of “mishandling” tomatoes at its stores through putting them at refrigerator temperatures, which would damage its flavor even more. Phil Morley, a technical officer for the British Tomato Growers Association said that supermarkets need not have to refrigerate tomatoes, but many stores were still unaware of this. He said: “Good retailers like M&S and Waitrose understand this, but many of the others don’t always get it.”

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