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Crop Biotech Update

EFSA's Review of Plants Developed using ZFN-3

October 31, 2012

With the European Commission's request to deliver a scientific opinion related to risk assessment of plants developed using the zinc finger nuclease 3 technique (ZFN-3), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms conducted a review assessing this method on genetic modification. ZFN-3 is a gene transfer method which allows the integration of gene(s) in a predefined insertion site in the genome of the recipient species. Since other nucleases with a similar function to ZFN are considered in this opinion, the term site-directed nuclease 3 (SDN-3) is used to describe the technique rather than ZFN-3 specifically.

The EFSA GMO Panel compared the hazards associated with plants produced by the SDN-3 technique with those obtained by conventional plant breeding techniques and by currently used transgenesis. With respect to the genes introduced, the SDN-3 technique does not differ from transgenesis or from the other genetic modification techniques currently used, and can be used to introduce transgenes, intragenes or cisgenes. The main difference between the SDN-3 technique and transgenesis is that the insertion of DNA is targeted to a predefined region of the genome. Therefore, the SDN-3 technique can minimize hazards associated with the disruption of genes and/or regulatory elements in the recipient genome.

View EFSA's news release at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2943.htm. The EFSA report can be accessed at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/2943.pdf.