Background

Sharka disease caused by Plum pox virus (PPV) is the most harmful disease of stone fruits, such as peach, nectarine, plum, apricot and cherries. Since there are no PPV resistant​ ​varieties, tree destruction is currently the only means of control once trees are infected. PPV originated from Central and Eastern Europe and is now widespread over Europe. PPV was first found in the US in 1999 where it was eradicated by destroying the infected and surrounding trees, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars and the destruction of numerous orchards.

The US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in collaboration with INRA (France), has developed a PPV-resistant tree through genetic engineering. The resistance to PPV is highly effective, stable, durable, and heritable as a dominant trait. The new PPV-resistant variety is named HoneySweet. HoneySweet has been evaluated by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and was found to be as safe for the environment and consumers as plums that are currently grown. For more information click here,

Since 1996 public sector research labs in France, Poland, Romania, Spain and the Czech Republic have in collaboration with ARS in testing HoneySweet in Europe. The tests have shown among other things that ​Honey​S​weet provides also in Europe long term sustainable P​P​V resistance.​ In June 2014, the members of the international research team concluded that on the basis of the experience gained with the US procedures and the additional data collected in field trials conducted in the EU, that the time is ripe to prepare a dossier for the placing on the market in the EU of the GM virus resistant plum tree HoneySweet for cultivation and consumption

The international research team involved in the collaborative development of the HoneySweet Plum consists of:

  • Dr. Maria Badenes, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agarias ( IVIA), Spain.
  • Dr. Ann Callaghan, Agricultural Research Service, USA.
  • Dr. Chris Dardick, Agricultural Research Service, USA.
  • Dr. Ivanka Kamenova, AgroBioInstitute (ABI), Bulgaria.
  • Dr. Tadeusz Malinowski, Research Institute of Horticulture, Poland.
  • Dr. Jaroslav Polak: CRI, Czech Republic.
  • Dr. Michel Ravelonandro, INRA Bordeaux, France.
  • Dr. Ralph Scorza, Agricultural Research Service, USA.
  • Dr. Ioan Zagrai, Fruit Research and Development Station, Romania.

 

Further Information