Comsumers fed up with those picked-green, gas-reddened, virtually tasteless tomatoes found too often on grocery shelves can take heart from some research going on at a plant-biotechnology company in Davis, Calif.

Scientist William Hiatt believes that by rearranging the genes he may have hit upon a tomato that can be picked in a more ripened state but won't deteriorate as fast as an ordinary tomato. This would enable the tomato to maintain its tastiness and also withstand the rigors of shipping.

Hiatt is getting ready to field test his redesigned product. If it works out, tomato eaters everywhere will be forever grateful.