Viewpoint: ‘Regulating gene-edited crops as GMOs will do nothing to support sustainable agriculture’

Image source: European Commission

Gene editing is the latest and sexiest DNA editing tool in the continuum of plant breeding innovations. With genetically modified organism (GMO) technology, scientists introduce “foreign” genes, i.e. genes from a different organism, into crops. With gene editing, scientists create additional genetic variation by making precise changes to the existing crop’s genome. It offers great opportunities, but also creates regulatory challenges.

Both North and South American countries paved the way for development of gene-edited crops by removing regulatory uncertainty. Time will tell whether the European Commission also grasps the opportunity to re-consider its over-cautious approach to biotech crops. The EU’s GMO directive has effectively regulated GM crops to death in Europe. Most big biotech companies have moved their R&D to the US and the cost of current regulatory approvals restricts them to the largest agribusinesses. Regulating gene-edited crops as GMOs will do nothing to support sustainable agriculture. It would simply make it too expensive for European academics, small companies and humanitarian projects to develop such products.

Especially in Europe, we need to learn from the GMO debate. Public concerns are important and the European Commission is well advised to listen to them. However, it is equally important not to let loud voices block the development of rational, evidence-based and non-discriminatory regulatory framework that provides legal certainty.

Read full, original post: To Regulate Or Not To Regulate: Current Legal Status For Gene-Edited Crops

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