The 'Sicilian Rouge High GABA' is a unique tomato variety. This variety contains high levels of gamma aminobutyric acid, which is said to help people relax and can keep blood pressure down. Tokyo-based Sanatech Seed worked with scientists from Tsukuba University on the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing technology to develop this new 'Sicilian Rouge High GABA' tomato. The gamma aminobutyric acid level in this new variety is five or six times higher than in regular tomatoes. The tomato is already available for sale in the Japanese market. Pioneer EcoScience is the only distributor of this new tomato variety.
A committee from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare granted Sanatech Seed permission to commercialize this new tomato variety, on the express condition that the company inform the public what kind of tomato variety this is. That is why the company designed packaging with a prominent message that reads 'enhanced with genome-editing technology', which is not exactly the same as genetically modified food (GM-food). Genome-edited plants are considered as safe as other plant products that have been improved with traditional methods. That is because genome editing does not introduce foreign genetic material.
This is the first time a tomato variety that has undergone genome editing with CRISPR technology has entered the market. There are genome-edited soybeans in the US market, but they have been developed with older genome-editing technology.
Sanatech Seed has begun to accept online orders for the 'Sicilian Rouge High GABA'. One box of 3 kg costs around 7,500 yen [66.02 USD]. Sanatech Seed plans to export the new tomato variety to other markets as well. The US Department of Agriculture already announced that this tomato variety will not receive the same kind of oversight as traditional GM-foods.
Source: China-Japan Daily