Norfolk Plant Sciences Ltd welcomed the decision by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which means US home growers should be able to purchase seeds and grow the nutritionally enhanced high-anthocyanin purple tomato from spring 2023.
The USDA Regulatory Status Review (RSR) issued on Wednesday September 7 is based on information from Norfolk Plant Sciences and their familiarity with tomato varieties, knowledge of the traits that alter fruit color and nutritional quality, and understanding of the modifications. USDA issued a response letter indicating the plant is not subject to regulation. This is the first RSR response that USDA APHIS has issued under the revised biotechnology regulations.
The purple tomato was modified to alter its color and enhance its nutritional quality. Domesticated tomatoes already have genes to produce anthocyanins, but they are not “turned on” in most fruits. The GM purple tomatoes have two genes added from snapdragons that work like “on switches,” so the fruits and juice are a rich source of antioxidants because purple pigments are made in the whole tomato, not just the skins. The decision follows a long wait for Professor Martin who developed the anthocyanin rich purple tomato in 2008.
Butelli et al. Enrichment of tomato fruit with health-promoting anthocyanins by expression of select transcription factors. Nat. Biotechnol., 26 (2008), pp. 1301-1308.
Zhang et al. Anthocyanins double the shelf life of tomatoes by delaying overripening and reducing susceptibility to gray mold (2013) Current Biology (23)
For more details on the RSR, read the article on the USDA APHIS website
Source: Crop Biotech Update