USDA to overhaul regulatory process for biotech crops to incorporate advances in gene editing

Molecular Scissors

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. . . . Improved techniques for altering crop genomes are already bringing a new generation of plant varieties to the market — and around the world, regulators are playing catch-up.

. . . .

On 18 April, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will begin its first meeting of a committee charged with ending the struggle. The committee, which is sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and two other agencies, has been asked to predict what advances will be made in biotechnology products over the next 5–10 years. It is scheduled to report by the end of the year on the steps that regulators need to take to prepare themselves. The result could inform an ongoing USDA effort to re-assess its process for evaluating engineered crops.

. . . .

Many feel that regulations in the United States, which grows more GM crops than any other country, are particularly ripe for change. The USDA itself has acknowledged that it might be over-regulating some crops if they have traits that have already been scrutinized. . . .

Related article:  In push for labeling GMOs, why not label mutagensis?

. . . .Over the past five years, the USDA has determined that about 30 types of GM plant — from soya beans whose oil has a longer shelf life, to pineapples with rose-coloured flesh — do not fall under its regulatory rubric. Some were made using gene-editing techniques.

“One of the things that has to happen is to plug that huge hole,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman, director of sustainable agriculture at the Center for Food Safety, an environmental-advocacy group in Washington DC. “Whether you think they’re over-regulated or under-regulated or just not intelligently regulated, there’s nobody who thinks this is appropriate.”

Read full, original post: Gene-editing surge drives US to rethink regulations

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