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American regulators have allowed the cultivation and sale of two crops modified with the gene-editing technique known as Crispr. The crops – a white button mushroom and a form of corn – are the first Crispr plants to be permitted for commercial use in the US.
The move is a boost for new technology in the creation of foodstuffs, but is expected to worsen the considerable confusion in Britain over the use of gene-editing in agriculture and the importing of crops created using such technology.
A committee of European commission regulators was expected to report last month on whether gene-edited crops should be classed as genetically-modified organisms or should be freed from the severe restrictions concerning GMOs in Europe. At the last minute it announced a delay in its verdict – to the dismay of many UK scientists.
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“Researchers and plant breeders in the UK simply do not know whether it is worth investing time and money in creating novel foods using gene-editing, despite its enormous potential. At the same time the US has given clear signals of approval to its scientists,” [said crop scientist Professor Huw Jones of Aberystwyth university.]
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It is also not clear whether importation of products such as gene-edited corn will be allowed into Britain or the rest of Europe, because the commission has not decided whether it is to be rated a GM crop or not. This could trigger awkward problems with food labelling in coming years.
Read full, original post: US moves to sell gene-edited mushrooms fuel doubts over British ban on GM imports