USA – GM CROP UPDATES POTATO, PINEAPPLE, CHESTNUT
COMMERCIAL APPROVAL SOUGHT FOR GM POTATO
The JR Simplot company has applied for commercial release of a GM potato, to be marketed as Innate, which has been modified to decrease the production of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen, and reduce black spot bruising.
The petition claims that the potatoes are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk.
Public comments are now being sought.
GM CHESTNUT TREE RESEARCH
After years of suffering from blight caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, American chestnut trees may rise again through gene technology developments. Dr. William Powell of the State University of New York and Scott Merkle of the University of Georgia started the search for genetic protection for the American chestnut tree in 1990. Dr. Powell knew that most of the chestnut blight symptoms are caused by the oxalic acid that C. parasitica generates as it grows. He also knew that wheat has an enzyme called oxalate oxidase, which detoxifies oxalic acid. Together with his team, he transferred the gene that encodes oxalate oxidase from wheat to chestnut, and they found that oxalate oxidase can indeed enhance blight-resistance.
This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture supervised the planting of three experimental patches, a project organized by the Forest Health Iniative (FHI). If the trial works, the FHI will request permission to plant transgenic chestnut trees in the wild to re-establish the species in America’s woodlands. The team hopes to use the model for future projects to re-establish threathened species such as the elm tree, ash tree, and a fir tree known as the eastern hemlock.
USDA APPROVES TESTING OF GM PINEAPPLE
Biotech pineapple developed in Costa Rica by Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. Inc. has been approved for testing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new pineapple variety is called Rosé because of its rose-colored flesh.
The developers overexpressed a gene from pineapple and tangerine, silenced other genes, and altered flowering for more uniform growth and quality. Del Monte must complete the testing and a food safety consultation with the Food and Drug Administration prior to commercialisation of the product.