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. . .Which of the following would you regard as genetic modification?
A: Adding a gene from another organism
B: Inducing mutations with radiation or toxic chemicals
C: Making a single precise change to an organism’s genome
For me, the answer is D: All of the above. For the European Commission, though, the answer is “A – yes, B – no, and C – well, we can’t make up our minds.”
This position has never made any sense and now, with the CRISPR gene-editing revolution, it appears even more ludicrous.
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. . . [G]ene editing works by exploiting natural recombination. . . the simplest form merely involves cutting DNA at a specific site. When the cell repairs the damage, it often adds or deletes a few DNA letters. Exactly the same kind of mutations occur naturally. . .
. . . .Modern breeders . . . zap plants with radiation or DNA-damaging chemicals, and then screen thousands of cells to find one with the desired change. The EU has specifically ruled that mutagenesis as this is known (option B above) does not count as genetic modification. . . .
The EU. . .has yet to decide whether simple gene editing (option C above) counts as genetic modification. Rationally, it makes no sense to subject gene-edited organisms to far greater scrutiny than the products of mutagenesis when the end result can be identical. If anything, mutagenesis is riskier because it is far less precise.
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. . .[W]e need to move to a system that focuses not on how new strains of plants and animals are created but whether they have been changed in a way that could harm people or damage the environment. . . .
Read full, original post: Judge gene-edited crops by what they do, not how they are made