USDA approves genetically modified purple tomato after a long-running varietal project

USA- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the genetically modified (GM) purple tomato as safe to grow after more than 14 years of development.

The USDA approved the sale of Norfolk Plant Sciences (NPS) nutrition-dense purple tomato seeds for spring 2023.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) came to the conclusion that ” the modified tomato is unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk relative to its comparator,” according to a Regulatory Status Review.

The purple tomato was developed in order to provide the public with a “nutritionally enhanced tomato”.

The researchers have been working to get regulatory approval ever since it was completed in 2008.

The tomato was invented by Cathie Martin, a professor at the John Innes Center, who was conducting the research together with professor Jonathan Jones of The Sainsbury Laboratory, who both later founded NPS.

The two sought to establish their goods in the market but ran into some unanticipated challenges.

Martin and Jones did not anticipate that it would take so long for their crop to be authorized for sale. In particular, they anticipated faster and more significant expansion in the UK, where the product was created.

Martin created the purple tomato, an anthocyanin-rich tomato fit for human consumption by precisely creating a genetic “on switch” derived from an edible flower.

Though it took 14 years to receive USDA certification, Nathan Pumplin, CEO of Norfolk Plant Sciences' US-based commercial business, is enthusiastic about the implications it will have for his organization and other researchers working on enhanced foods.

According to the company’s submission with the USDA, “The anthocyanin content of purple fruits from a hemizygous Del/Ros1 plant averaged approximately 500 mg per 100 g fresh weight whereas anthocyanins were undetectable in wild type red tomatoes.”

Anthocyanins are pigments that give foods their purple color. These include red cabbage and blueberries. The antioxidant aids in reducing diabetes and heart disease risk.

According to the study, adding GM tomatoes to the diet of mice who are prone to cancer can increase their longevity by 30% due to the high-anthocyanin levels in the tomato.

Although there are currently purple-skinned tomato cultivars, they do not have the same beneficial quantities of anthocyanins.

Though it took 14 years to receive USDA certification, Nathan Pumplin, CEO of Norfolk Plant Sciences’ US-based commercial business, is enthusiastic about the implications it will have for his organization and other researchers working on enhanced foods.

Nathan noted that they are optimistic that they can begin limited distribution of purple tomatoes in the US in 2023.

While the Purple Tomato team celebrates their victory in the US, they continue to look abroad and hope other nations will accept their invention.

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