Human Exceptionalism

Tomatoes Have More Genes Than Us!

Big news on the tomato front: They have more genes than human beings! From the NYT story:

The tomato, whose genome has just now been decoded, turns out to be one well-endowed vegetable, possessing 31,760 genes. This rich legacy, possibly a reflection of the disaster that killed off the dinosaurs, is some 7,000 more than that of a person, and presents a complex puzzle to scientists who hope to understand its secrets.    

Break out the smelling salts!  Does that mean a human person or an animal person?  Speciesism alert!

But rest assured, Nicolas Wade, the NYT’s crack science reporter assures us that the high gene count doesn’t mean they are more sophisticated than people:

That the tomato and potato contain so many genes does not mean that they are more sophisticated than people but that they have chosen a different stratagem for managing their cells’ affairs.   

Phew, that’s a relief.  But “chosen” is an interesting word for a science reporter to use, don’t you think?  Intelligent Design apostasy alert!

All kidding aside, this knowledge could help tomato growers breed better tasting tomatoes.  But if that doesn’t work out, there’s always good olive oil and mozzarella.  Add a dash of pepper, and aah.  Except…Oh my gosh, tomatoes are annuals!  According to one professor, that means we shouldn’t eat them because they have rights!

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