Scott’s work is supported in part by the Evanston, Ill.-based Two Blades Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports development of durable disease resistance in plants, particularly for subsistence farmers.
The group typically underwrites research through the proof-of-concept stage.
In this case, the proof was a paper Scott co-authored that was published in the Aug. 1 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, PLoS ONE.
The next step will be for a company, a grower group or some other entity to step forward and help fund moving the Bs2 tomato through the deregulation process, says Diana Horvath, Two Blades chief operating officer.
Transgenic crops are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The agencies require additional testing to show the crop is safe to consumers, non-target species and the environment.
Because the Bs2 tomato has not been deregulated, Scott must adhere to strict regulations, and all crop material must be destroyed at the end.
The goal would be for the agencies to rule that the transgenic tomato is not materially different in composition, safety or other components than a non-transformed tomato.
The deregulated status would allow the Bs2 tomato to be grown and marketed without restrictions or added requirements, such as labeling.
Both Horvath and Scott say they don’t believe bringing the transgenic tomato to market will be a problem.
“Jay’s talk has generated a lot of interest,” Horvath says. “We’re confident we’ll be able to put together the funding to get the deregulation done. Whoever pays the money for the deregulation will control the asset and what happens to it.”
Because of Two Blades’ humanitarian mission, Horvath says the technology would be provided free to subsistence farmers worldwide.
She says they’re also looking for grower-cooperators who would like to plant and test a small plot of the transgenic variety.