“They call us the food police.”
That’s how Greg Jaffe described his work as director of biotechnology for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), speaking at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s seventh annual Biotech Roundtable.
Unlike most speakers at the event, Jaffe said the U.S. government’s decision not to regulate some products created by gene editing is questionable.
The government’s current position is that gene edited crops such as the non-browning CRISPR mushroom, with no genetic material inserted into the plant’s genome, does not need to be regulated.
But, Jaffe pointed out, “They (the government) didn’t say it was safe. They said they didn’t have the authority to regulate it. It wasn’t a science-based decision.”
If the gene-edited plant is “novel enough to patent, is there a contradiction in calling it natural?” Jaffe asked. “Regulation is not necessarily a dirty word. It can take many forms. Maybe it just requires notification of a gene change.” Oversight should be “science- and risk-based,” he said.
“Is there potential risk? That’s a better discussion than if the product fits some existing legal structure. Not all gene editing is the same.”
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