November 18, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 44  

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NEWS

Scientist creates Homer's tomacco

By Taha Suria
Gazette Staff

The popular television series The Simpsons has become well known for many things, but inspiring scientists to experiment with plants was never one of them — until now.

Inspired by the cartoon, Rob Baur, an Oregon scientist, had several attempts fail in his quest to make ‘tomacco’; however, his faith in the scientific legitimacy of Homer Simpson’s endeavours remained unflinched, and eventually, he was successful in grafting a tomato and a tobacco plant and has since managed to grow three tomacco specimens.

“I took a class back in college in which we studied a similar experiment, and after watching that Simpsons episode, I wanted to see if it would work,” he explained, adding he would never consider marketing tomacco as a product because he would not want to advocate the use of tobacco.

“Grafting in plants is used extensively, but the new fruit won’t have seeds,” explained George Lazerovitz, honourary professor of plant sciences at Western.

Although preliminary tests have not confirmed the presence of tobacco inside the ‘tomato’ itself, tobacco is present in the leaves of the new plant.

Baur went on to say he had grown three tomaccos; one of them was used in testing, the second was promised to the writer from The Simpsons who wrote the episode featuring tomacco and the third is to be sold on eBay.

When Baur was asked to give advice to young science students who can only dream of accomplishing as much as he had with this discovery, he simply said science was not something to be read in a textbook and then forgotten. He went on to complain that no one ever interviewed him because of genuine accomplishments, such as patents he had filed in the past.

When asked if he made a habit of experimental research based on cartoons, Baur said no. “I don’t usually try things at home that I see on TV.”

“It’s great, now you can get your carcinogens and vegetables at the same time,” said third-year engineering student Phil Tomlinson.

 

 

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