Another significant milestone has been recorded in the application of safe modern biotechnology as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has reviewed and approved a new tomato from Norfolk Plant Sciences.
The newly approved purple tomatoes were genetically modified by Norfolk Plant Sciences (NPS) of the United Kingdom (UK) to alter their colour and improve their nutritional quality. According to the USDA, the plant is unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk compared to other cultivated tomatoes and is not subject to regulation under 7 CFR part 340. That means, from a plant pest risk perspective, this plant may be safely grown and used in breeding in the United States.
According to NPS, ….many independent studies show that antioxidants and anthocyanins can reduce the incidence of cancer, improve cardiovascular function and improve health and well-being. Lab studies also suggest these compounds could help alleviate irritable bowel syndrome.
Scientists from the John Innes Centre, UK have genetically engineered the tomatoes to contain very high levels of the cancer-fighting antioxidants “anthocyanins“, which as a result have turned the usually red fruit into a deep purple
In Nigeria, the Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) is working with other organizations including the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Alliance for Science Nigeria, Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) and others, to promote the safe application of modern biotechnology in Nigeria to enhance its mandate to improve the living standard of Nigerians.
CASER through its Food Avail programme plans to hold a one-day workshop and policy dialogue in Abuja to enhance Nigeria’s food security preparedness by applying biotechnology solutions. According to the convener of the workshop, human rights lawyer and executive director of CASER, Frank Tietie, the high-powered policy dialogue is set to hold in November to serve as a convergence between the government officials working to ensure food security, the developers of biotechnology in Nigeria of and citizens groups representing end users of biotechnology.
Tietie stated further that: “….we have moved beyond the basic understanding of how biotechnology works and the need to ensure its safe application which is the primary responsibility of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA). The stage we are now is to explore ways of applying biotechnology solutions to the benefit of Nigerians and we are prepared to partner with many more organizations that promote the use of safe modern biotechnology to enhance the well-being and health of humans, animals and the environment.