GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Tomato

 

 

 
Research  Modified product characteristics, insect and virus resistance
Field trials EU 75, USA 652, others in many countries
Approval EU: none
USA 6, Canada, two other countries
Cultivation 1998-2002 USA, probably China
Characteristics Delayed maturity
Traits In the USA, no further commercialisation is anticipated at present. Commercial utilisation of GM-tomatoes is expected in Indonesia in the medium term.

 

Cultivation

Tomato plants require warmth and are grown from the tropics to regions with moderate climates where they are mainly grown in greenhouses.

Tomatoes first became commercially important after the First World War. In 2004, 4.4 million hectares were cultivated with tomatoes worldwide. The most important producing countries are China, the USA, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and India.

 

Utilisation

The main component of tomatoes is water (95%). Tomatoes also contain vitamins A, B1, C, E, Niacin (B3; an essential vitamin) as well as minerals especially potassium and other trace elements.

The fruit is consumed raw or processed to:

Worldwide, 80% of the tomato harvest in processed industrially.

 

Gene technology: aims of research and development

Product traits

Modified composition of components

  • Pectin content: Pectins are part of the supporting connective tissue of the plant cells. A lower pectin content reduces the energy requirement in the industrial processing of tomatoes to puree or ketchup.

  • Increase in the starch levels and a concomitant reduction in the water content (yielding a higher dry weight and cost savings in the processing of tomato products).

Modification of the components as regards taste, health and compatibility, such as:

  • fructose composition
  • enrichment with vitamins or secondary plant materials that are regarded as having a health-promoting effect (carotenoids, lycopine, folic acid and flavonoids). Experimentally, tomatoes have been successfully gene-technologically modified to produce 25-fold more folic acid than conventional tomatoes.

  • reduction in allergens (substances, usually foreign proteins, capable of causing allergy)

Agronomic traits

Resistance to pests

Resistance to pathogens

Adaptation to climate and location factors

  • Drought, salinity and cold resistance

Weed control

Plant development

  • Delayed maturity: tomatoes are usually harvested before they are ripe. The ripening process is initiated by gassing the tomatoes with ethylene. In the GM-tomatoes the breakdown of certain substances in the cell walls is slowed. Tomatoes can therefore ripen longer on the bush and can still survive longer storage and transport times.

  • Parthenocarpy

Renewable primary products

  • Molecular pharming: the utilisation of GM tomatoes to produce pharmaceuticals; at present this is at the research stage.

Field trials with GM-tomatoes

EU
No. of applications 75
Countries Italy 48, Spain 16, France 5, others in Portugal, Netherlands, Great Britain and Greece.
Period 1992-2003
Characteristics Modified product quality; virus, insect and fungal resistance
Worldwide
USA 652
Zeitraum 1985-2010
Other countries Mexico, Japan, Canada, Australia, India, China, Argentina, Egypt, Chile, Guatemala, Thailand, Indonesia

 

Utilisation of GM-tomatoes

Approvals worldwide
  For cultivation As foodstuff/feed
USA 6 6
Mexiko 1 3
Japan 1 1
Canada   4
Characteristics Delayed maturity, insect resistance
Listed are the different GM-tomato lines (Events).
Cultivation
EU None
USA In 1998 approximately 200.000 hectares were under cultivation; this has been suspended since 2002. The first gene-modified tomatoes, FlavrSavr, did not fulfil the producers' expectations and is no longer cultivated today.
Other countries In China, virus-resistant tomatoes are expected to be cultivated. However, there is no reliable information on this.

 

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GM Food and Feed: Authorization in the EU
GMO Database: Contains information on every GM plant that has been approved or is awaiting authorisation in the EU.
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