Gene editing upends traditional notion of what is a GMO

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[T]he term “GMO” is colloquial, not scientific. It stands for “genetically modified organism,” but we don’t call all crops whose genes have been modified GMOs. We’ve reserved the label specifically for plants or animals containing DNA from another organism. That works for most of the genetically engineered crops in commercial production, which contain genes from bacteria that make them resistant to insect pests or certain herbicides. But techniques like CRISPR, which can be used to make precise modifications to a plant’s DNA without adding any new genetic material, are calling the term’s usefulness into question, at least from a regulatory standpoint.

Varieties that have been modified without adding new DNA are blurring the distinction between genetic engineering and conventional breeding.

The term “GMO” doesn’t work anymore, says Dominique Brossard, a professor of life science communication, also at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Gene editing is “completely revolutionizing what we think genetic engineering might be,” she says.

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Read full, original post: Washington Grapples With a Thorny Question: What is a GMO Anyway?

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