NEW BIO-TECH TOMATO DUE FOR TEST IN MARCH

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The second genetically altered tomato designed to stay ripe longer without going soft should be test marketed as early as March, following its approval by the Agriculture Department late last month.any. The firm expects to increase production later this year.Last May, the government allowed Calgene, Davis, Calif., to produce the first genetically altered tomato, the FlavrSavr,

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The second genetically altered tomato designed to stay ripe longer without going soft should be test marketed as early as March, following its approval by the Agriculture Department late last month.

any. The firm expects to increase production later this year.

Last May, the government allowed Calgene, Davis, Calif., to produce the first genetically altered tomato, the FlavrSavr, which uses a method different from Endless Summer tomato's to maintain ripeness.

The Endless Summer tomato has been engineered to interrupt the production of the hormone ethylene, causing it to ripen more slowly. The tomato is picked when it is almost ripe, or yellow. Final ripening occurs when it's sprayed with ethylene gas, a process already used on green tomatoes.

The Calgene tomato ripens more slowly because it contains a gene that suppresses the production of the pectin hormone. Pectin triggers ripening as it breaks down.