Rotten tomato: Senator Rand Paul misses mark targeting tastier tomatoes as wasteful research

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[Editor’s note: Kevin Folta is a molecular biologist and chair of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida.]

Senator [Rand] Paul just placed his waste sticker on a gem of a project. He literally trashed a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project that is rapidly resolving the genes associated with tomato metabolites as “one of the egregious examples of waste in the U.S. government.” In short, he took a barely-surfacy-cursory glimpse at NSF’s carefully-refereed investment and unilaterally decided it was a frivolous waste of taxpayer funds.

Rand Paul

He then fabricated a sadly snarky response, ignoring science and evidence for a quick political dig. He saw a few buzzwords that he could toss into the science-funding fray, and score a few points as a hero on waste patrol.

But is he a budget hero if the work he calls a waste actually is an amazing investment?

Better tasting tomatoes spur more consumption, and a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to be associated with long-term health. At a time of escalating health care costs, something as simple as a tastier tomato may translate into massive government savings. One chronic illness can easily cost the same as this entire grant.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Senator Paul- Make Tomatoes Great Again

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

  • Nate

    I would have no issue with a private business using their own R&D funds to genetically modify tomatoes to be tastier.

    I certainly have an issue with our federal government, which is currently just under $20 trillion in debt (not including absolutely massive unfunded liabilities), spending a large amount of money for something that could “potentially” save the government money at some unknown point down the road.

    There are a lot of things that, “may translate into massive government savings”, but I promise you, if every one of them were followed, they would not lead to a net government saving.

    Maybe instead of throwing a ton of money at something like this, substitutes should be encouraged for those who aren’t particularly predisposed to eating tomatoes (for taste or consistency).

  • WilliamGillingham

    Yeah – I agree with Nate… let private enterprise do this kind of research… If Mr. Folta believes this to be such a great idea, he should form a company and pursue it.

    I mean… where does it end? Where would Mr. Folta draw the line? Following his logic, the government can research ANYTHING.

    • Good4U

      So, would the federal government at the very least provide some assurance to the general public that the technology coming from research by “private enterprise” is safe? The main obstacle that “private enterprise” faces today with any sort of biotechnology relating to food is suspicion. The federal government is the only remaining repository of mostly unbiased adjudicatory function on the subject of food safety. If the federal agencies were to come out with a strong signal of support for a more flavorful tomato, then I would agree that there might be no further need of spending taxpayer revenue over this subject. So far, that’s not been forthcoming, at least in the U.S. So far, the government has been content to let the “organic” loudmouths steal the show in the commercial arena pertaining to food. It’s time to put the “organic” claptrappers out of business by showing them up for the frauds that they really are. Only then would a more flavorful tomato have a chance of succeeding in the marketplace. So, Rand Paul, let’s hear your next bloviation on this miserable subject. How honest are you willing to be on the subject of “organic” manure peddling?

    • ColoradoBrit

      It’s Dr. Folta. If you are going to use a title, at least get it right!

  • Garland Ragland

    Show it to me in the Constitution, Kevin.

  • Mr. Jefferson

    Come on Kevin, don’t take the constitution so personally!

  • TincanJoey

    I other words Kevin is saying “Rand Paul is targeting my gravy-train!!!”.

  • Matt Gillette

    I love when he says “may translate into massive government savings” and doesn’t even try to give a glimpse into how that could actually happen. Then he says, “This is exactly where I want my tax dollars invested.” Of course, you prude! You get paid when that happens. Fuck you and your tomatoes, Kevin.

  • Joshua Cagle

    Sorry but this does not need to be tax payer funded. What is it with so many people assuming the government in massive debt needs to pay for everything under the sun. Rand Paul is right.