Viewpoint: Costly regulations prevent consumers from enjoying benefits of biotech crops

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[T]hree papers [recently published] from research groups around the world detail attempts to make a new type of super-tomato: one that does not sacrifice taste for convenience. To do this, the researchers used CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing, which allowed them to modify specific genes in wild relatives of tomatoes. The result — according to a scientist who has tasted one of the fruits — is an “aromatic” tomato that could re-energize taste buds.

To achieve the same product through conventional breeding would have taken decades, says Jörg Kudla at the University of Münster in Germany, a lead author on one of the papers. Instead, it took his team three years. It’s an example of science serving a need of society …. In July, the European Court of Justice ruled that foods produced by CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing must be bound by the same onerous regulations as genetically modified crops. The resulting mandatory tests and trials will massively increase the cost of developing a commercial product ….

Related article:  Ethiopia remains a net food importer, despite its rich farming history. Can GMO crops help?

The expense is one reason why genetically modified crops have so far yielded little benefit for consumers: because it has cost so much to produce such plants, companies focus on developing commodity crops and traits that appeal to farmers ….  if [gene-edited] crops have no commercial future in Europe, it might be a struggle to justify paying for the crops’ development.

Read full, original article: Super-tomato shows what plant scientists can do

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