Scientists want to genetically modify tomatoes to make them spicy. It’s about time.
Today is the day I accepted GMOs into my life, because today is the day I learned that scientists want to take tomatoes, one of the most delicious foods on this earth, and through devilishly complex DNA alterations, make them spicy. And just when I had given up on chasing perfection. What a wonderful, spicy tomato-filled world this could be.
Capsaicinoids are the compounds that give hot peppers their heat. They are valuable to cooks and medical practitioners alike for their properties. But cultivating hot peppers is a challenge, researchers from Brazil and Ireland
To be clear, the scientists want to use tomatoes to cultivate capsaicin for reasons other than giving us a new spicy food.
“The idea is to use the tomato as a biofactory, with potential industrial and pharmaceutical applications,” paper author Agustin Zsögön from the Universidade Federal de Viçosa in Brazil told Gizmodo. For instance, capsaicinoids are found in pain relieving medicines that treat arthritis, sprains, backaches, and more. Growing and harvesting them from tomatoes could increase the supply and ensure consistent pungency for a range of uses, the paper argues.
Hell, capsaicin has even been linked to longevity, because it is believed to prevent disease. Everyone should be able to smear capsaicin ointments all over their bodies.
But imagine the benefits of spicy tomatoes themselves: spaghetti sauce made flavorful without being buried in a truckload of red pepper flakes; salads made enjoyable without the help of salt, pepper, oil, and fuck it, Thousand Island dressing; smoky BLTs for lunch; tomato soup with heat from the heavens.
And so I enter this plea into the record: Genetically engineer the living daylights out of tomatoes. Pump them full of designer DNA sequences, modified organic phosphates, and ribosomes ripe with spice. Do not leave a single cell in its natural, earth-given form. Do whatever it takes. I need that spicy tomato.