Australia adopts relaxed CRISPR gene-editing rules, ‘middle ground’ between US, EU extremes

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The Australian government will not regulate the use of gene-editing techniques in plants, animals and human cell lines that do not introduce new genetic material.

The decision, announced on 10 April, is the result of a review of the country’s gene technology regulations.

Previously, the use of such technologies, including CRISPR–Cas9, for research was restricted in practice because the techniques were governed by the same rules as conventional genetic modifications, which require approval from a biosafety committee accredited by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR).

The amended rules remove that requirement for the use of tools in which proteins cut DNA at a specific target site — as long as the tools allow the host cell to repair the break naturally, rather than using a template containing genetic material to direct the repair process.

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The Australian ruling is a “middle ground” between more lenient gene-editing rules in the United States, Brazil and Argentina, and tougher measures in the European Union, say geneticists James Hereward and Caitlin Curtis of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Related article:  Insect-resistant Bt cotton failed in India, claims study. Geneticist says anti-GMO authors designed research to seed doubt about crop biotech

 

Read full, original article: Australian gene-editing rules adopt ‘middle ground’

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