Gene edited mutant tomatoes with stress-busting effects go on sale in Japan

The world's first ever gene-edited food has gone on sale, as a Japanese company has released a mutant tomato packed full of stress-busting vitamins.

The 'Sicilian Rouge High GABA' tomato was created using CRISPR, a gene-editing tool that is being used to treat everything from blindness to cancer.

The tomatoes have been altered to produce less of a protein that breaks down an amino acid called GABA, which can reduce blood pressure.

Eating them could have a positive impact on stress and sleep, as the tomatoes have four to five times the amount of GABA than a normal tomato.

Consumers in Japan are now buying the tomatoes directly from Sanatech Seed, the company that created them.

The firm began shipping the tomatoes in mid-September, and says around 4,200 gardeners have also been given gene-edited seeds. This means we could see a lot more of the tomato in future.

"This tomato represents an easy and realistic way in which consumes can improve their daily diet," said Shimpei Takeshita, president of Sanatech Seed, at the Global Tomato Congress earlier this year.

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CRISPR gene editing works by altering an organism's DNA to encourage or replace certain traits.

Recently, scientists used the tool to all but cure a woman's blindness by editing the genes that caused her eye cells to malfunction.

In the case of the tomatoes, the genes that produced the amino acid which reduced the amount of GABA were edited.

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Unlike genetic engineering, which adds DNA from other species, gene editing works with naturally occuring genes.

This means the tomato isn't subject to the same rules as genetically modified crops in Japan.

If you live in the UK or Europe, though, don't expect to see these futuristic tomatoes any time soon, as the rules on gene-edited foods are much stricter over here than in Japan.

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