After Monsanto withdrew its applications to sell genetically modified seeds in the European Union last year, competing seed companies are moving in to “challenge Monsanto’s market share.” Instead of applying for their own approvals to sell GM seeds, these companies are turning to mutagenesis, a process that “mimics the sun’s irradiation of plants” to create mutant varieties of crops. Unlike GM crops, mutant crops are unregulated and cheaper to produce. The National Academy of Sciences warns that “regulating genetically modified crops while giving a pass to mutant products isn’t scientifically justified” because mutagenesis is much less precise and the risk of unintended health effects is increased. Though mutagenesis is not a new technique, it is becoming more and more popular with seed companies in places where GMOs are rejected.
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