The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service examined a new variety of tomatoes from Norfolk Plant Sciences. Tomatoes have been modified to turn purple and improve nutritional quality. The agency said it found the plant was less likely to increase pest risk than other cultivated tomatoes and was unregulated. This means that this plant is safe to grow and cultivate in the United States from a pest risk perspective. Genetically modified tomatoes are high in antioxidants believed to fight cancer and heart disease.
Global interest in specialty crops is expected to continue to grow, according to a report from Rabobank. Gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR (crisper) allow scientists to engineer plants without introducing foreign genes and should help reduce the recent GMO controversy.
“We expect specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables with yield traits to be among the first new GM crops to hit the market,” the report said.