Genetic engineering debate needs to focus on progress

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Genetic engineering (GE) has become increasingly contentious in recent years. Thousands of citizens and stakeholders in the United States are currently striving to pass mandatory food-labelling laws, ban certain GE products and create GE-free zones for growing food.

GE is the manipulation of an organism’s genome through biotechnology or modern molecular techniques. It is also called genetic modification, although that term is understood by scientists to encompass older processes such as hybridization as well. With the wealth of possibilities now offered by newly developed gene-editing tools — particularly CRISPR–Cas9 — debates about the safe and appropriate uses of GE are becoming more heated. In fact, in the 20 years that I have been involved in discussions about it, oversight of GE has never seemed so much like a powder keg waiting to explode.

One issue that has dominated the debate is whether the focus of regulation should be the process by which GE organisms are made or the GE products themselves (the living organisms or products derived from them).

But framing the debate around ‘product versus process’ is neither logical nor scientific. It is stalling productive dialogue on the development of appropriate oversight in the face of rapid advances in GE.

Read full, original post: Policy: Reboot the debate on genetic engineering

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