Why Sweden doesn’t regulate CRISPR gene-edited crops as GMOs

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[Editor’s note: The following is part of an interview with Staffan Eklöf, of the Swedish Board of Agriculture.]

Could you give a brief overview of Sweden’s analysis of the current EU regulations that led to your interpretation that some CRISPR-Cas9 gene-edited plants are not covered by this legislation?

The following simplification describes our interpretation pretty well; if there is foreign DNA in the plants in question, they are regulated. If not, they are not regulated.

Staffan Eklöf

Our interpretation touches on issues such as what is a mutation and what is a hybrid nucleic acid.  

CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful tool that can result in plants with no trace of transgenic material, so it is impossible to tell whether a particular mutation is natural. How did this influence your interpretation?

We based our interpretation on the legal text. The fact that one cannot tell if a plant without foreign DNA is the progeny of a plant that carried foreign DNA or the result of natural mutation strengthened the position that foreign DNA in previous generations should not be an issue. It is the plant in question that should be the matter for analysis.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: The Regulator’s perspective: Why some gene-edited plants are not GM-regulated in Sweden