Press release by Nottingham University,
4 June 1998
NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY RECEIVES FIRST ROYALTY PAYMENT
FOR USA GROWN GM TOMATOES
Plans revealed for European grown GM tomatoes
Names of genetically modified tomatoes
A milestone in research collaboration between
academia and industry was reached last night when the University
of Nottingham received from Zeneca the first royalty payment for
its research on genetically modified processing tomatoes.
The tomatoes, grown in California, were used
to produce tomato puree. This was the first food produced from
genetically modified fruit offered for sale in the UK (or Europe)
and has been sold over the past two years in the stores of Safeway
and J Sainsbury. The tomato pureeon sale in cans clearly
labelled as GM food and sold side by side with the non-transformed
varietyhas been very well received by the consumer.
The modified tomato was based on joint research
by Professor Don Grierson, of The University of Nottingham, and
Zeneca. The product was developed by Zeneca and the Petoseed breeders
at Seminis, the world's largest vegetable seed company.
The tomato ripens normally but softens more
slowly. This processing tomato offers benefits throughout the
supply chain; the farmer and processor can get better quality
fruit to the factory, while the consumer is offered quality and
Sir Colin Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of the University
of Nottingham, received the first royalty payment from Dr David
Evans, Research and Development DirectorZeneca Agrochemicals,
as a result of the UK sales.
"The development of the tomato puree is
a case study of how a successful research collaboration between
academia and industry as well as between different companies in
the agri/food chain can lead to the launch of a successful new
product. It signifies the start of an exciting future" said
Sir Colin said, "The University of Nottingham
is proud to be associated with a successful partnership between
Zeneca, Seminis, Safeway and Sainsbury. The success of this product
is proof that the consumer wants the benefits that biotechnology
can offer, provided that they are fully informed and treated with
Henk Pennings, Seminis associate director of
research and development for Europe, said that "the alliance
proved to be an optimal blending of "hardware", the
Petoseed tomato, with "software", the Zeneca/University
of Nottingham gene-isolation technology. Pennings also paid tribute
to the contributions throughout the food chain, including Zeneca,
the retail partners and ultimately consumer preference and choice.
"We look forward to many more successful endeavours in the
future" Pennings commented.
Pennings announced that the names of the first
two transgenic tomato varieties for Europe would be "Vegadura"
Following the success of the genetically modified
tomato puree in the UK, Zeneca and Seminis have applied for the
necessary regulatory approvals from the European Union to grow
"Vegadura" and "Vegaspeso" tomatoes
and to sell them as processed products.
Further Press inquiries, etc.
Dr Nigel Poole
Zeneca Plant Science
Jealott's Hill Research Station
Berkshire RG42 6ET
Tel: (44) 1344 414136
Fax: (44) 1344 414657
Notes for editors
1. The genetically modified tomato puree was
first sold in stores of Safeway and J Sainsbury on 5 February
1996. The tomato is modified to produce lower levels of the enzyme
polgalacturonase, this means that the fruit ripens normally and
stays ripe in the field for a couple of days longer. The result
is that better quality fruit can be delivered to the manufacturers
for turning into processed food products. The first product is
tomato puree sold in Safeway and Sainsbury stores. Once European
production has begun we will see other processed products (particularly
diced) being offered for sale.
2. Zeneca Group PLC (Registered Office,
London) is a leading international bioscience group with a turnover
in 1997 of GBP 5.19 billion.
3. Zeneca Agrochemicals is the crop protection
and plant science business of the Zeneca Group. It is the third
largest supplier to this international market, with sales in 1997
of GBP 1.63 billion in over 130 countries.
4. Zeneca Plant Science (ZPS) is the
business unit within Zeneca Agrochemicals which researches, develops
and delivers value-added crop characteristics to growers and processors
through the application of biotechnology.