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EPITOPE'S AGRITOPE UNIT BEGINS FIELD TRIALS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED TOMATOES

 EPITOPE'S AGRITOPE UNIT BEGINS FIELD TRIALS
 OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED TOMATOES
 BEAVERTON, Ore., July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Epitope Inc. (AMEX: EPT) today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Agritope Inc., has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a controlled field test of genetically engineered (transgenic) tomato plants on agricultural land in Umatilla County, Ore. The transgenic tomato plants have been engineered with a proprietary gene that improves ripening characteristics by inhibiting the production of ethylene, the plant hormone that controls the ripening of fruits and vegetables. The approval follows a review and environmental impact assessment that resulted in a USDA determination that the field test does not pose a risk to local agricultural crops or to the quality of the human environment.
 "This field trial is an important milestone in Agritope's ethylene control technology program. Using our proprietary gene, Agritope's scientists have succeeded in developing a transgenic cherry tomato with a decreased ripening rate. Such a tomato could be harvested later in the ripening cycle and be resistant to damage in transit to market, resulting in a higher-quality tomato," said Adolph J. Ferro, president and chief executive officer of Agritope and its parent, Epitope. The Agritope group has targeted several fruits and vegetables in addition to tomato for incorporation of its ethylene control technology, added Ferro.
 Agritope Inc. produces and markets disease-free micropropagated plants in its grape biotechnology program and is working on a series of projects to improve the post-harvest shelf life of fruits, flowers and vegetables. Agritope is also engaged in development of a floral preservative and is currently conducting a test market of packaged fresh flowers with a longer shelf life.
 Epitope Inc. is an Oregon corporation utilizing biotechnology to develop diagnostic tests for AIDS and other indications. The company also is engaged in the development of novel therapeutic antimicrobial drugs.
 -0- 7/6/92
 /CONTACT: Mary Hagen of Epitope, 503-641-6115; or Shari Annes of Annes Associates, 415-726-5400, for Epitope/
 (EPT) CO: Epitope Inc.; Agritope Inc. ST: Oregon IN: MTC SU:


LM-JH -- SE008 -- 6805 07/06/92 18:32 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 6, 1992
Words:347
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