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Japan’s High-GABA Tomato Certified as Non-GMO in Philippines

June 19, 2024

According to media reports, the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Philippine Department of Agriculture last month issued a Certificate of Non-Coverage for a gene-edited tomato from Japan, officially recognizing it as a non-genetically modified organism. This certification exempts the product from the usual regulatory processes required to assess biosafety.

The tomato, developed over 15 years of research by Japanese company Sanatech Seed, was created using CRISPR/Cas9 technology and contains high levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is a naturally occurring non-protein amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in the nervous systems of humans and other mammals. Some studies suggest that GABA may help lower blood pressure, potentially offering cardiovascular benefits. The research team at Sanatech Seed claims that the gene-edited tomato contains up to five times more GABA than conventional tomato varieties.

In late 2020, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare approved Sanatech Seed’s sales application for the high-GABA tomato. However, because the product did not undergo GMO safety testing and was not required to carry a GMO label, its approval for market release was met with protests from some Japanese consumer groups. Despite these protests, the tomato was successfully launched in Japan, with sales expanding continuously. After obtaining the regulatory certification in the Philippines this year, Sanatech Seed now plans to target the U.S. market.

The high-GABA tomato is the second gene-edited crop to be classified as non-GMO in the Philippines, with a non-browning banana developed by U.K. company Tropic Biosciences receiving the same non-GMO certification from the Philippine Department of Agriculture in April 2023.

Image: Pexels

This article was based on a Chinese article. Read the original article.

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