USDA Issues Regulatory Status Response re GM Tomatoes
On September 6, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that it had reviewed a new genetically-modified tomato from Norfolk Plant Sciences. The tomato has been modified to enhance nutritional quality and to have a purple color.
By way of background, under 7 CFR Part 340, developers may submit a Regulatory Status Review (RSR) request to APHIS when they believe that a modified plant is not subject to further regulation and oversight by USDA. In reviewing the request, APHIS will consider whether the plant may pose an increased plant pest risk.
According to Norfolk Plant Sciences’ RSR request, the tomato variety was genetically modified to produce enhanced levels of endogenous anthocyanins in the fruit, which are associated with a reduced risk of chronic and degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and certain cancers. USDA determined that the tomato does not pose any increased plant pest risks, and that the plant may be safely grown and used in breeding in the U.S. Notably, this appears to be the is the first and only RSR to be submitted and responded to by APHIS.