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Crop Biotech Update

Public Acceptance of Food Products from Genome-Edited Crops

December 1, 2016

Genome editing techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9 system, can achieve transgene-free gene modifications and is expected to generate a wide range of plants. However, the public perception against GMOs suggests that people will initially be hesitant to accept these plants.

Tetsuya Ishii and Motoko Araki from Hokkaido University in Japan explored the bottlenecks of consumer acceptance of transgene-free food crops developed through genome editing and made recommendations. People should not pursue a zero-risk bias regarding such crops. Developers should also aim to produce cultivars with traits that would satisfy consumer needs, aside from those for farmers only.

Moreover, developers must also investigate off-target mutations in resultant plants and initially refrain from multiplex genome editing. In terms of regulation, the government should consider their status and establish appropriate regulations. The government should also promote communication between the public and developers.

If people are knowledgeable of the benefits of genome-edited plants and trust in the regulations, then transgene-free crops could gradually be integrated into our society.

For more on this study, read the article in Plant Cell Reports.