In the 1990s, a bunch of gene jockeys brought the first genetically engineered food to market. The business crashed but biotech science has flourished far beyond the produce aisle.

GMO Food Fears and the First Test Tube Tomato

In May 1994, a tomato appeared on supermarket shelves across the country that was unlike anything Americans had eaten before. Grown from so-called “Flavr Savr” seeds, it was the first genetically engineered food approved for sale, dreamed up by a group of scientists in a California lab.

The new tomato promised a clear benefit: a longer-lasting, better-tasting fruit. And as biotech pioneers looked on, its approval from the Food & Drug Administration ushered in a multi-billion dollar industry with the potential to rethink how we grow crops.

But today, the tomato is nowhere to be found, and a growing segment of the population is wary of technology that once fascinated. What happened to the Flavr Savr, and what does it tell us about the industry it birthed?

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