Gene editing technology – CRISPR is the best-known example – would be freed from government regulation under a proposal by Australia’s Office of Gene Technology Regulator. After a 12-month technical review of the country’s broad definition of genetic modification, regulator Raj Bhula said gene editing is a faster version of classic breeding practices.
“If these technologies lead to outcomes no different to the processes people have been using for thousands of years, then there is no need to regulate them because of their safe history of use,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Her proposal needs parliamentary approval to take effect. Australia’s biotech regulations date from 2000, when scientists used what is now called classical genetic modification to insert genetic material from one species into another. “Whereas, this process (gene editing) is just manipulation within the organism and not introducing anything foreign,” said Bhula.
Some scientists see gene editing as a way for speedy agricultural adaptation to climate change and to keep up with global population growth.
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