Japan Introduces SICILIAN ROUGE HIGH GABA the World’s First Genome-Edited Tomato

High Gaba Sicilian Rouge Tomato from Sanatech

Japan’s Sanatech Seed has begun selling “Sicilian Rouge High GABA” tomato to consumers.  This is the first genome-edited tomato to be sold on the Japanese market. 

The product was developed using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to edit the tomato’s genome and remove the autoinhibitory domain that prevents tomatoes from increasing their GABA content. The tomato therefore produces less of the enzyme responsible for breaking down the amino acid called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and results in the tomato containing 4-5 times the usual amount of GABA. GABA, an amino acid, is believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.  No additional genes (not naturally found in the tomato) were added during the process.

This tomato represents an easy and realistic way in which consumers can improve their daily diet” according toShimpei Takeshita, the president of Sanatech Seed.  Dr. Hiroshi Ezura, CTO of Sanatech Seed told delegates at the annual Global Tomato Congress that CRISPR/Cas9 “is simpler and easier to handle than other gene-editing techniques making it ideal for developing crops with enhanced nutritional characteristics.”

Japanese consumers are already used to purchasing other products with high GABA content, so this concept is not a new one.  However, to increase awareness for this special tomato and its benefits, Sanatech, together with its partner for sales, Pioneer EcoScience Co., Ltd decided to distribute the seedlings free of charge in seedling gardening kits through a marketing campaign on its Home Gardening channel in May 2021.  Over 5000 applicants responded to this web-based marketing approach and the overwhelming interest prompted the company to begin commercial sales in September 2021.

CRISPR- Edited Foods vs. GMO (Genetically Modified Foods)

CRISPR-edited foods have a distinct difference setting them apart from GMO products.  Prior to the introduction of genome-editing, crops were genetically modified using foreign DNA to bring about a specific result like making a crop more pest-resistant or having the ability to withstand adverse climate conditions.  Because foreign DNA is added, GMO crops are subject to stricter regulation in most countries of the world.  In genome editing, no DNA is added, but CRISPR technology is used to edit the existing DNA.

Getting approval for GE products in Japan is not as difficult from a regulatory data perspective as for GMO products and the Japanese government does not require businesses to identify gene-edited foods as such in their labeling.  Japan does require that gene-edited products have approval prior to sale from the appropriate regulatory agencies.  In December 2020, Sanatech submitted a notice of intent to commercialize Sicilian Rough High GABA as the nation’s first genome-edited food product to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and notification was accepted.  The USDA has also said this product will not be regulated as a GMO crop.  According to a statement from the International Seed Foundation, the Japanese government has affirmed its “determination” that Sanatech Seed’s GE tomato will not be regulated as a genetically modified (GMO) product.

This is exciting progress for the food and agriculture industry and the Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato is just the start. Expect a rapid development in this area and the appearance of thousands of new CRISPR foods in the future.

Lily Noon


  1. AFN Food Tech Global Edition – Brief:  Japanese company brings “world’s first                        genome-edited tomato” to market by Jack Ellis, March 30, 2021
  2. Organic Slant – Japan Launches World’s First Gnome-Edited Tomato, organic
  3. Euro Fruit Magazine – Sanatech Seed Launches World’s First GE Tomato,
  4. The Japan News – Genome-edited tomato goes on shelves Sept 17, 2021,
  5. Oddity Central – Japan Starts Selling World’s First Genome-Edited Tomato, oddity
  6. Sanatech Seed – From Gene Edited Seeds to a Health Creation Company,


「クリスパー・キャス9」と呼ばれるゲノム編集技術を使用してトマトのゲノムを編集し、トマトのギャバ(GABA:gamma-aminobutyric acid、ガンマ・アミノ酪酸)含有量を抑制する自己阻害ドメインを取り除いています。このため、ギャバを分解する酵素があまり生成されず、結果的にトマトに含まれるギャバが通常の4~5倍になります。ギャバは鎮静や弛緩を助け、血圧を下げる効果があるとされています。ゲノム編集のプロセスでは、(トマトに通常存在しない)遺伝子が追加されることはありません。

「このトマトを食べれば、毎日の食生活を簡単かつ現実的に向上させられます」と、サナテックシードの竹下心平社長は話しています。サナテックシードの最高技術責任者、江面浩氏は、毎年開かれている業界の会議、Global Tomato Congressで、次のように語りました。「クリスパー・キャス9は、他のゲノム編集技術に比べて単純で扱いやすく、栄養価の高い作物を開発するうえで理想的です」。




日本では、ゲノム編集を施した製品の販売認可を取得するのは、GMO製品ほど難しくはありません。ゲノム編集食品であることをラベルなどに表記することも義務付けられていません。ただし、ゲノム編集食品の販売に先がけて、規制当局から認可を取得する必要があります。サナテックシードは、2020年12月にシシリアンルージュハイギャバの商業販売の意向を厚生労働省に提出し、日本で初めて販売認可を受けたゲノム編集食品となりました。米国農務省も、この製品をGMO作物として規制しない方針を表明しています。International Seed Foundationの発表資料によると、日本政府は、サナテックシードのゲノム編集トマトをGMO食品として規制しないという「決定」を確認しています。


Lily Noon


  1. AFN Food Tech Global Edition – Brief: Japanese company brings “world’s first genome-edited tomato” to market(短報:日本企業が「世界初のゲノム編集トマト」を販売へ)、著:Jack Ellis、2021年3月30日、com

  2. Organic Slant – Japan Launches World’s First Gnome-Edited Tomato(日本が世界初のゲノム編集トマトを導入)、organic

  3. Euro Fruit Magazine – Sanatech Seed Launches World’s First GE Tomato(サナテックシードが世界初のゲノム編集トマトを導入)、com

  4. The Japan News – Genome-edited tomato goes on shelves(ゲノム編集トマトを販売へ)、2021年9月17日、

  5. Oddity Central – Japan Starts Selling World’s First Genome-Edited Tomato(世界初のゲノム編集トマト、日本で販売開始)、oddity

  6. Sanatech Seed – From Gene Edited Seeds to a Health Creation Company(ゲノム編集種子から健康創造企業へ)、