The first direct consumption genome-edited tomato was launched in Japan by Sanatech Seed. The Japanese ministries in-charge have announced their determination that the genome-edited tomato will not be regulated as a genetically modified product.
Sanatech Seed's Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato was developed using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. The tomato contains high levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure. According to Shimpei Takeshita, President of Sanatech Seed and Chief Innovation Officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the exclusive distributor of the tomato, it contains four to five times more GABA than a regular tomato.
Takeshita said the Sicilian Rouge variety and the GABA trait were chosen for their high level of consumer acceptance. "Sicilian Rouge is a popular tomato, and consumers are already used to buying other products with a high GABA content so we felt it was important to introduce them to the technology in a way that was already familiar to them," he explained.
In a statement on the notification of genome-edited high-GABA tomato in Japan, the International Seed Federation said it welcomes the release and that it is an important step in the implementation of the Japanese policy on genome editing, providing opportunities for the seed sector to continue its efforts on plant breeding innovation to contribute to sustainable food systems.
(Source: Crop Biotech Update, International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. www.isaaa.org)