July 4, 2020

Del Monte secures USDA approval for GM pineapple


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delmonteDel Monte Fresh Produce has won approval from the USDA to ship genetically engineered pineapple into the US.

The Del Monte Fresh Produce Co., based in the Cayman Islands, has developed a transgenic pineapple that has tissue of a “novel rose color.”

The company has altered the fruit to “overexpress” a gene derived from the tangerine and to suppress other genes, increasing accumulation of lycopene, according to its submission to the USDA.

The plant’s flowering cycle has also been changed to provide for more uniform growth and quality.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has found that the “Rosé” cultivar is a regulated transgenic crop but does not require a biotechnology permit to export the crop to the US.

The transgenic fruit “does not have the ability to propagate and persist in the environment once they have been harvested,” according to USDA APHIS.

According to Del Monte’s submission, pineapples are commercially grown in a “monoculture” that prevents seed production, as the plant’s flowers aren’t exposed to compatible pollen sources.

Even if a seed did form, it would be unlikely to germinate and grow without human intervention, the company said. Temperatures in most of the US are not hospitable to pineapples, and importation into Hawaii is already banned for plant sanitation reasons.

Del Monte’s submission notes that the company is still seeking approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration, which also regulates transgenic food, and the government of Costa Rica, where the crop is grown.


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