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BBC Learning English 6 Minute English 7 August 2014 Purple tomatoes NB: This is not a word - for - word transcript 6 Minute English Briti sh Broadcasting Corporation 2014 Page 1 of 4 bbc learningenglish .com Rob : Hello I’m Rob . W elcome to 6 Minute English . With me today is Finn . H ello Finn . Finn : H ello Rob . Rob : Now Finn, I'd like to start by ask ing you a question. Would you eat a purple coloured tomato? Finn : Purple? Well, t hat depends. Is it a naturally coloured tomato ? Where does it come from? Is this an artificial tomato? Rob, tell me more. Rob: Artificial – yes, you mean is it man - made and i s natural? Well, in a way - yes. Because s cientists have developed a genetically modified purple tomato ; t hey took red tomato plants and changed their genetic patterns so that they now produce new, purple tomatoes. Finn: Yes, s o this would be an example of GM – genetically modified – food. It's something we 'll be discussing more soon and , of course, looking at some related vocabula ry. Rob : But here's another question for you Finn that hasn't been modified – or changed – in any way! GM food has been researched and experimented with for many years but do you know when the first genetically modified food was first sold commercially? W as it in : a) 1974 b) 1984 c) 1994 Finn : We ll, we think of GM food as a recent thing so I'll say the opposite, a) 1974. Rob : OK, w e’ll find out if you ' re right later on . Let's talk more now about genetically modified food – or GM food. It's called this because the food's ge nes have been changed. This means the way it grows is different from the way it grows when it isn’t touched by humans. Finn: Yes, so, g rowing GM food – or crops – is controversial. Some scientists think it's needed to meet the world's growing demand for food. Rob: Yes, GM food can resist – or stop the effects of – some pests or bad weather. It can grow more quickly , meaning even more crops can be cultivated – or grown. 6 Minute English Briti sh Broadcasting Corporation 20 14 Page 2 of 4 bbclearningenglish.com Finn : But opponents of GM food – people who argue against it – say we don't know enough about it s effect on the environment. Rob : And then there are the fears about who control s what ' s grown. Finn: Yes, but despite this, GM food has become an important part of food production. Crops like sweetcorn, rape plants, wheat and tomatoes have all been genetically modified. Rob : Yes, l ike the purple tomato, which w as recently developed in the UK. It has a dark pigment – or colour – which gives it the same potential health benefits as blueberries. Finn: Well , that sounds like a good thing. And not only that , it has an antioxidant – that 's a substance that stops the decaying process – which test s show could help fight cancer. Rob: One day we could see these purple tomatoes on pizzas or in our tomato ketchup. Let's hear from Professor Cathie Martin who is a plant biolo gist from The John Innes Centre who developed this tomato. What does she s ay is good about this new food? Professor Cathie Martin, Plant Biologist, John Innes Centre : W ith these purple tomatoes, you can get the same compounds that are present in blueber ries and cranberr ies that give them their health benefits but you can apply them to foods that people actually eat in significant amounts and that are reasonably affordable. Rob : So she says the good thing about this development is we can get h ealth bene eat significant amounts of – so lots of – and they will be reasonably affordable – so it will be cheap. Finn : Yes but there's still maybe a problem with the colour. We are affected by the colour of stuff we put in our mouths. I mean, who eats blue food?! Rob: That's t rue. And also because the European Union has restrictions on growing GM food, this tomato has to be grown in Canada where rules are more supportive of GM foods. Finn: OK. Well, Professor Nick Pidgeon , who is an Environmental Psycholo gist, says in the UK there is some distrust of GM food. Rob : He says some people are concerned all this is messing with nature – it's not natural – and maybe we don't know what the long - term consequences are. Finn : And a big concern is that large corpo rations will have control over the technology. And this could mea n they control food prices too. You know Rob, I think t his i s a debate that will go on and on and on . Rob: Indeed. But it's now time to reveal the answer to today's question. Earlier I asked you if you knew when the first gene tically modified food was first sold commercially. 6 Minute English Briti sh Broadcasting Corporation 20 14 Page 3 of 4 bbclearningenglish.com Finn: I said a) 1974 . Rob: Interesting. The answer is actually 1994 . A company called Calgene sold a product that delayed the ripening of tomatoes. Finn: OK, well, I guess that means the fruit could last longer and it would stop it going soft? Rob: That was the idea. Now, before we go, Finn , could you remind us of some of the vocabu lary that we've heard today? Finn: Yes, I will . artificial genetically modified genes resist pests cultivated pigment antioxidant significant affordable distrust ripening Rob: Well , that brings us to the end of today's 6 Minute English. We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s programme. Please join us again soon. Both: Bye. 6 Minute English Briti sh Broadcasting Corporation 20 14 Page 4 of 4 bbclearningenglish.com Vocabulary and definitions artificial made by people, copying something made in nature genetically modified having its genetic structure changed for a particular p urpose (sometime shortened to GM ) genes parts of the DNA in a cell that control the physical development or characteristics of an individual plant or animal resist fight again st pests insects or small animals that damage crops cultivated developed to be grown on farms pigment natural substance that gives colour antioxidant a natural chemical that slows down the decay ing process significant important or noticeable affor dable not expensive distrust not trusting or believing someone or something ripening becoming fully grown or ready for eating Read and listen to the story online 140807_6min_purple_tomatoes / 8 0 / ngenglish/general/sixminute/2014 http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learni Related story : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science - environment - 25885756

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