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Crop Biotech Update

ISU Scientists Review Status of Genome-Edited Crops Regulation

September 28, 2016

Genome editing with engineered nucleases (GEEN) is an efficient tool for rapidly developing useful novel phenotypes. These techniques generate phenotypes indistinguishable from those developed through conventional mutagenesis and, thus, do not fit the definition of genetically modified organisms. A team led by Jeffrey D. Wolt from Iowa State University, reviewed the regulation of the products of GEEN.

The vagueness of the regulatory procedures of genome editing techniques is critical to their use in the development of useful traits. Continued regulatory focus on the process used rather than the novel phenotype developed results in confusion of regulators, product developers, and the public.

Success in advancing GEEN and related technologies for crop improvement will be limited if public views and regulatory response continues to be captured within the theme of GMOs. The focus of regulators must be on the plant trait, as it is the appropriate criteria for assessment of these crops.

Although progress is being made by regulators in drafting approaches in the application of genome editing for crop improvement, the review team believes that product-based criteria for regulation of new breeding technologies must still materialize.

For more information, read the article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.