Is a tomato a with a pig gene kosher?
Margalit from NYC wrote:
It seems that all this up and coming genetically engineered food, like the Flavr-Savr tomato, will pose new problems for kashrut. Are there any guidelines for bio-engineered produce? Say a tomato was made with a pig gene in it (a rumor I actually heard about the Flavr-Savr, and certainly not beyond the reach of genetically altered food right now), ... do you have any thoughts on this matter?
If I understand your question correctly, you are assuming that the pig gene would constitute a nonkosher ingredient mixed together with an otherwise kosher product, and you want to know if pig gene makes the whole thing unkosher?
I've been doing some reading on genetically engineered foods, and have contacted some people in the field (not the tomato patch :-) ) and have come up with the following:
- The process of obtaining the desired gene for use is one that involves copying, and re-copying the gene in various media ( such as bacteria), so that the final, resultant gene has NO pig in it.
- The gene is not placed in each and every tomato, but rather in some seeds or plants which then produce NEW generations of tomatoes that have never come in contact with the original gene.
To ascertain the Halacha in this case, I posed your question to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita. He told me that he is not familiar with the exact process of breeding these tomatoes and the like, but his ruling is that if the gene underwent significant change after it left the pig, the tomato is indeed kosher.