Chinese geneticists have reported that they achieved progress in their quest to improve the quality of tomatoes in their local supermarkets. This serves as an astonishing fulfillment to the ‘genetic roadmap’ which helped researchers reverse the country’s agricultural trend of growing commercial tomatoes that are big in size but are below quality in taste. The study also paved for the critical discovery of breeding techniques for the chemical genes that have shown previous results of improving the flavor of tomatoes.
Leading the research project is Harry Klee, a horticulturist from the University of Florida. He has been recognized as one of the world’s foremost tomato experts. Collaborating with him is Sanwen Huang, a professor at Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, one of China’s most celebrated plant geneticists. The team of the two industry leaders has set buzz across science circles, gaining the interest of the public about developing local tomatoes.
In an interview with Wall Street Journal, Huang said that it is not enough for their research team to know the chemical content of local Chinese tomatoes. He emphasized that it is important for breeders to keenly observe the “genetics of flavor.” Furthermore, he also revealed that the half of the funds needed for the study was funded by Chinese government grants.
The prospect of developing Chinese tomatoes does not only take a toll on the country’s agricultural sector. Euractiv reported that the rise of Chinese tomato imports raise fear among Italian producers about the food security among member countries of the European Union. Italy is China’s largest tomato importer. The country uses fruit-type tomatoes to make tomato paste used in Italian restaurants. Italy has a climate potent for cultivating better varieties of tomatoes compared to China. Italy also gained international fame for celebrating the National Pasta Day in honor of the dish that gave their country global fame.