The Flavr Savr tomato was the first commercially grown genetically engineered food to be granted a license for human consumption. By adding an antisense gene, the California-based company Calgene hoped to slow the ripening process of the tomato to prevent softening and rotting, while allowing the tomato to retain its natural flavor and color.
The FDA approved the Flavr Savr in 1994; however, the tomatoes were so delicate that they were difficult to transport, and they were off the market by 1997. On top of production and shipping problems, the tomatoes were also reported to have a very bland taste: “The Flavr Savr tomatoes didn’t taste that good because of the variety from which they were developed. There was very little flavor to save,” said Christ Watkins, a horticulture professor at Cornell University.