Genetically modified tomatoes, the US decision marks a milestone for GM crops
Starting in 2023, the purple tomatoes developed by Norfolk Plant Sciences will also be able to be grown in American home gardens.
On the tables of Americans who, according to the latest estimates, consume an average of 80 kg of genetically modified products every year, GMO tomatoes grown in home gardens are also on the way.
Starting in 2023, all citizens (and not just professional growers) will be able to buy seeds and grow on US soil a type of genetically modified tomato the “Big Purple Tomato” from Norfolk Plant Sciences, a British company specializing in GMOs that developed the first purple tomatoes over a decade ago high in antioxidants.
This product, previously subject to the limitations of the US regulation on “Movement of Organisms Modified or Produced through Genetic Engineering”, Has just obtained the green light from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which has determined that”the plant can be grown safely”, Effectively liberalizing domestic cultivation as well.
The USDA decision was based on the favorable opinion of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the federal agency responsible for the protection and health of plants and animals, which examined the “Big Purple Tomato” of the Norfolk Plant. Sciences indicate that “the plant is unlikely to present a greater risk of pests than other cultivated tomatoes”.
The “Big Purple Tomato”, the GMO tomato rich in antioxidants
This extravagantly colored tomato, developed in 2008 by the team led by Professor Cathie Martin of the John Innes Center in Norwich, England, has the characteristic of containing a high level of antioxidants in its purple pulp, in particular anthocyanins, substances that are very important for the well-being of the human organism – blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbage are rich in them … – but which in classic tomatoes are generally present in low quantities.
This means that the genes that produce anthocyanins are still found in the DNA of normal tomatoes, but that in most cases not expressed – which is why the researchers added two genes of snapdragon (a brightly colored flower) to activate the innate ability of these vegetables to produce anthocyanins.
Since the creation of the ‘Big Purple Tomato’, the regulatory approval process for the product has been long and bumpy, as explained by Professor Jonathan Jones of Cambridge University’s Sainsbury Laboratory. “When Cathie and me we founded Norfolk Plant Sciences nearly 15 years Going to bring genetically enhanced purple tomatoes to market, we never thought it would take so long to get regulatory approval. This is a day of crop improvement celebration, with USDA approval of a beneficial product”.
Although it is created in the UK, the product has not yet received the approval of the UK authorities. The US decision, however, represents a milestone in the liberalization of the sale and cultivation of GMOs. “As Norfolk Plant Sciences we await reasonable regulatory frameworks in the UK as well, both for these products and to protect our major crops from disease through genetics” Jones concluded.