Norfolk Plant Sciences (NPS) has developed genetically modified (GM) purple tomatoes containing high levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins normally found in fruits such as blueberries and blackberries.
Independent studies show that antioxidants and anthocyanins can reduce incidence of cancer, improve cardiovascular function, and improve health and well-being. Lab studies also suggest these healthy compounds could help alleviate irritable bowel syndrome.
Oxidising chemicals in the body can affect the cell signaling system causing disease. The right phytonutrients can combat this effect.
NPS is a spinout company from the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory two world-leading research institutes based at Norwich Research Park.
The company was established by Professors Cathie Martin and Jonathan Jones as the UK’s first GM crop company. Its aim is to find ways of commercialising their research into plants with health-giving compounds.
Although purple-skinned tomato varieties exist, they do not accumulate useful levels of these healthy compounds within the fruit flesh.
While it is possible to use nutritional supplements to increase intake of these compounds, there is increasing evidence to show that they work much better when consumed within foods.
Chronic diseases are a worldwide problem, killing twice as many people as infectious diseases. The World Health Organisation states that improved diet is one of the major changes that people can make to help prevent these diseases.