September 23, 2022 – No matter how you cut it, a genetically modified lilac Tomatoes It just came close to appearing in American grocery stores.
The British company developing the new purple fruit has passed preliminary testing with US regulators, showing that genetic changes in tomatoes do not put the plants at greater risk of pest damage.
Purple tomatoes are the first to pass the new SECURE law in the United States. SECURE became law in phases between May 2020 and October 2021. New US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules update how the agency is reviewed genetically modified foods, focusing more on the food itself than on the process used to create it.
More than skin deep
Not only should a tomato with a purple skin be confused, tomatoes are purple inside and out. Alginates from the purple snapdragon plant provide color and boost anthocyanin levels. Norfolk Botanical Science says tomatoes contain 10 times that Antioxidants than regular tomatoes, thus providing additional health benefits.
Also known as “super tomatoes,” purple tomatoes can now be imported, across state lines, and “released” into the environment. The company plans to provide seed packages to home gardeners once they receive final regulatory approval.
Norfolk used a common agricultural bacteria, aptly named agrobacteriumAnd the To introduce genetic changes to Small tomato variety. Subsequently, the company introduced the same changes in other tomato varieties through crossbreeding.
It can be difficult to identify some of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on grocery shelves. Many of them have been genetically altered to make them easier to ship or last longer on shelves, but these characteristics don’t change their shape. However, the dark purple tomatoes from Norfolk Plant Sciences will likely stand out in the production aisle.
Move, eggplant. You are not the only fruit in town. (And yes, both are fruits.)
A boost to food innovation?
says Nathan Bomblin, PhD, CEO of US-based trading arm Norfolk Planet Science.
“This decision represents an important step to enable innovative scientists and small businesses to develop and test new, safe products with consumers and farmers,” says Pomplin.
The new federal law is designed to encourage innovation while reducing pest risk, says Andrew Walmsley, senior director of government affairs for the American Farm Bureau Consortium.
“We’ve been genetically modifying plants and animals since we stopped being mostly hunters and gatherers,” Walmsley says. “Improved genes provide many societal benefits including, but not limited to, more nutritious foods.”
Concerns about the non-GMO camp
Not everyone is excited about this new tomato.
When asked what consumers should consider, “we want them to realize that if this is a genetically modified product,” said Hans Eisenbeis, director of mission and messages at The Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit organization in Bellingham, Washington, that verifies consumer products that don’t Contains genetically modified ingredients.
“genetically modified organisms They are pretty much ubiquitous in our diet,” he says. “It is important that [consumers] Know that this particular tomato is genetically engineered in case they choose to avoid GMOs.”
He says there are other ways to get high levels of anthocyanins, including from blueberry.
Eisenbees considers SECURE to change the “deregulation” of GMOs in agriculture, weakening the ability of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to regulate these products.
One concern is that the same mechanism used to genetically modify this plant could be used for others and “opening the door to potentially unregulated genetic applications completely,” Eisenbeis says.
Acknowledging that there are skeptics about GMO products, Pomplin says, “Skepticism can be a good start to learning when followed by solid information gathering. We encourage people to learn about the science-based facts of GMOs and the ways in which GMOs can benefit consumers. and climate.”
“In addition, there are many non-GMO and certified organic products available on the market, and consumers who choose to avoid GMOs have many good options,” adds Pumplin. “New products enhanced with biotechnology will provide additional options for some consumers who are interested in the benefits.”
How will they stack up?
Passing the first regulatory hurdle from the SECURE rule doesn’t mean purple tomatoes can start hitting stores just yet. Regulations from many federal agencies can still be enforced, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other departments of the USDA. Tomatoes may also need to meet label requirements from the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Norfolk Plant Sciences voluntarily submitted a Food and Feed Safety Assessment Report to the Food and Drug Administration.
Time will tell what other, if any, obstacles the purple tomatoes will need to overcome before they can form a purple pyramid in the local produce aisle.
“We want to bring tomatoes to market carefully and without rushing them,” says Pomplin.
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