Despite EU gene-editing restrictions, Dutch government may greenlight CRISPR crop studies

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Image Credit: Pioneering Minds

Dutch agriculture minister Carola Schouten is considering allowing experiments involving a ‘light form’ of crop genetic modification even though the practice is banned by the European Commission ….

This summer the European Court ruled that the CRIPR-Cas technique for gene-editing crops should be subject to the same stringent regulations as conventional genetically modified (GM) organisms. Despite this, Schouten told the paper in an interview she wants explore the possibilities offered by CRIPR-Cas, which does not involve mixing dna from different species but speeds up the process of crop breeding by removing ‘weak’ bits of dna.

According to Greenpeace the decision of the court to categorise the method as genetic modification was the right one. It was ‘based on a risk assessment,’ spokesman Herman van Bekkem told the paper. ‘Not to have done that with a new technique whose effects on nature and health are unknown would have been very strange.’

Wageningen University plant researcher Bert Lotz [said] the minister’s move is an encouraging one. ‘National and international research has shown that if handled carefully this type of intervention can lead to great strides in sustainability,’ he said. ‘The question is: do you want potatoes that need to be sprayed 15 times or do you want potatoes that can do without this amount of spraying because of this technology?’

Related article:  Biotech potatoes: A case study of how genetic engineering can improve our food supply

Read full, original article: Dutch farm minister opens door to gene-editing crops

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