Viewpoint: It’s time to fix flawed regulations and labels based on ‘utterly meaningless’ GMO term

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A proposed change would move oversight of GMOs from the FDA to the USDA.

“GMO” is an utterly meaningless term — which is remarkable considering that if you Google it, you get about 21,000,000 hits. The issue is not merely semantic, with legislators and regulators deliberating over whether organisms made with the new “gene editing” techniques, such as CRISPR-Cas9, are “GMOs” – which is rather like discussing whether taping a plastic cone to the forehead of a horse makes it a “unicorn.” Moreover, the term has, in effect, been monetized, with companies charging hefty fees for certifying that foods are “Non-GMO.”

Generations of legislators, regulators and anti-technology activists worldwide fail to grasp that “genetic modification” is a continuum and that plants and microorganisms modified with molecular techniques are likely to pose lower environmental and health risks than conventional plants because of the high degree of precision with which they’re developed. Nevertheless, regulation of the products of the newest technologies has been, literally, extraordinary. Those products are singled out for discriminatory sui generis regulation, and their reviews often drag on for years. In the European Union, there is a virtual ban on their cultivation.

More than three decades later, it is past time to correct not only misleading terminology but also flawed public policy based on mistaken assumptions.

Read full, original post: Why ‘GMO’ is a meaningless term (and how to fix that)

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