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India clarifies GM-Free Certification for imports

India clarifies GM-Free Certification for imports
Photo: Gurukrupa Corporation, India

On February 8, 2021, the Indian government’s Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) clarified that the implementation of the requirement for a Genetically Modified-Free Certificate for imported food products will apply to all consignments with a bill of lading dated March 1, 2021, and or after. The clarification further informs stakeholders about the permissible tolerance limit for the adventitious presence of genetically modified organisms (i.e., genetically engineered) at one percent. Earlier in its order of August 21, 2020, the FSSAI listed 24 food crops that are subject to this requirement: 

1) Alfalfa 

2) Apple 

3) Argentina Canola

4) Bean 

5) Chicory 

6) Cowpea 

7) Egg Plant

8) Flax Seed 

9) Maize 

10) Melon 

11) Papaya 

12) Pineapples 

13) Plum

14) Polish canola 

15) Potato

16) Rice 

17) Safflower 

18) Soybean 

19) Squash 

20) Sugar beet 

21) Sugarcane 

22) Sweet pepper 

23) Tomato

24) Wheat

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Strawberry gene boosts vitamin C in tomato

The tomato is one of the most consumed items in the Mediterranean diet but its vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is around 15-20 milligrams per 100 grams, which is relatively low compared with other plant species such as citrus fruits, kiwi, papaya and strawberry.

A tomato with 15% more vitamin C is the result of genetic engineering by Spanish scientists.

The key was using a strawberry gene involved in the production of ascorbic acid, according to the researchers from the Institute for Mediterranean and Subtropical Horticulture “La Mayora” (IHSM-UMA-CSIC) and the Andalusian Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA).

In a press release, they said they used the gene because it is what makes the from the strawberry one of the fruits with the highest vitamin C contents. It had already been successfully transferred to lettuce, doubling its vitamin C, but had never been tested on the tomato.

Collecting samples

The tomato is one of the most consumed items in the Mediterranean diet but its vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is around 15-20 milligrams per 100 grams, which is relatively low compared with other plant species such as citrus fruits, kiwi, papaya and strawberry.

“Since the tomato has small amounts of this nutrient, but it is one of the most consumed crops and of great importance for agriculture and the economy, we felt it was a good food in which to try to improve the nutritional quality,” said lead researcher Victoriano Valpuesta, from the University of Malaga.

Lead researcher Victoriano Valpuesta, from the University of Malaga

The techniques used to achieve the genetic modification are explained in the research article “Increased antioxidant capacity in tomato by ectopic expression of the strawberry D-galacturonate reductase gene” published in the Biotechnology Journal.

“Genetic engineering, with all the (relevant) precautions, should be seen as a solution for creating products with increased nutritional value,” Valpuesta said.

After completing this project, funded by Spain’s the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the researchers will next focus on improving quality in strawberries and on studying the olive genome.