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Saturday, October 16, 2021
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    The World’s First Genome-Edited Tomato is Now Available in Japan

    Photo: Tom Hermans/Unsplash

    GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid that is thought to aid relaxation and reduce blood pressure. Sicilian Rouge High GABA is a particular sort of tomato that has high quantities of GABA.

    Sanatech Seed Co., based in Tokyo, collaborated with experts at the University of Tsukuba to create a novel tomato variety utilising CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology. This new tomato variety, known as Sicilian Rouge High GABA, contains five to six times the average amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. To enable the tomato to create extremely high levels of GABA, the company removed an inhibitory region from its genome, according to Japanese media.

    According to Shimpei Takeshita, President of Sanatech Seed and Chief Innovation Officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the tomato’s exclusive distributor, the company was granted permission to commercialise the genetically altered Sicilian Rouge High GABA variety in December, and contract farmers have been growing them since then. The tomatoes are now ready to be sold in stores.

    We got mixed reactions to genome-edited foods at first, and we felt it would be difficult to bring them to market because consumers aren’t entirely aware of them,” Takeshita Tatsuo, chair of Sanatech Seed, told NHK. “However, individuals who took part in the cultivation trials gave the tomatoes an excellent reputation.”

    Sanatech Seed was granted permission to sell the novel tomato variety by a Japanese health ministry committee, subject to notification, and the business wants to send each package of tomatoes with a sticker that reads “enhanced using genome editing technology.”

    Genome-edited plant varieties are considered equally as safe as kinds developed via traditional ways, unlike genetically engineered foods, because no outside gene is introduced during the procedure.

    Sanatech Seed has begun taking orders for Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomatoes via the internet. According Japanese reports, a 3-kilogram crate of tomatoes will cost 7,500 yen, or roughly 68 dollars. That’s a hefty sum for tomatoes…

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