Backward regulations may prevent Europe from ever benefiting from easy-to-develop disease-resistant tomatoes


Engineering a tomato resistant to a pernicious fungal disease doesn’t seem like it’d be the easiest part of a plant pathologist’s job. But compared to getting that tomato to market? It’s a snap.

At least, that’s how Sophien Kamoun sees it. Kamoun studies plant diseases at the Sainsbury Laboratory in England, and in March [2017] his team published a paper describing a tomato they’d tweaked. Using the gene-editing technique Crispr/Cas9, Kamoun’s group snipped out a piece of a gene called Mildew Resistant Locus O, or Mlo. That deletion makes the tomato resistant to powdery mildew, a serious agricultural problem that takes a lot of chemicals to control.

But for now, that’s where Kamoun’s work stops. European regulations make the tomato essentially illegal—he and others can do the science, but probably can’t get it to field trials, and certainly can’t get it to market. “There’s more clarity in the US. One could probably get approval. But in Europe, it’s a big question mark,” he says. “I’m very frustrated by this, I have to be honest. Scientifically this plant is no different from any mutant we’d get from traditional breeding or traditional mutagenesis. I really don’t understand what the problem is.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Who wants disease-resistant GM tomatoes? Probably not Europe

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia