by Helen Mason
|What is a lemato? Is this one?|
In 2013, I was working on Agricultural Inventions: At the Top of the Field, a science book for kids in grades 5 to 8. In my search for genetically modified foods I kept coming across references to the lemato. According to the sources, this is a cross between a lemon and a tomato.
One site talked about mixing a tomato and a lemon seed. Another discussed how the cross was made solely to test whether researchers could find a way to make a tomato smell like a lemon. An article for students talked about the health benefits of crossing an antioxidant such as a tomato with a fragrant citrus fruit such as the lemon.
Several sites criticized the use of GM. Few referred to the original researchers. It was them I wanted to find—and fortunately I did.
Since the lemato was developed at Israel's Newe Ya'ar Research Centre and I don't read Hebrew, I researched SciTech news sites. The lemato is a tomato that includes a gene from a variety of lemon basil. Basil, that's the annual herb that's a member of the mint family and not a citrus fruit.
|Would a pic like this draw you into an article about lematos?|
So what's the message for online researchers? First, don't believe everything you hear or see on the Internet. Second, remember that many sites are like movie tabloids. Correct information might be present—but you have to get beyond the hype.
And no, I still haven't seen a lemato. But I suspect that it looks like a regular tomato. Researchers suggest that it has a different smell, however.
Helen Mason's most recent books include What is Digital Entrepreneurship, Be an Active Citizen in Your Community, and Be an Active Citizen at Your School, all Crabtree, 2016.