Biotech Updates

FAO Publishes Issue Paper on Gene Editing and Agrifood Systems

December 21, 2022

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has released Gene Editing and Agrifood Systems, a science- and evidence-based Issue Paper that presents a balanced discussion of the key aspects of gene editing, including the consequences for human hunger, human health, food safety, effects on the environment, animal welfare, socioeconomic impact and distribution of benefits.

The paper's executive summary states that gene editing has the potential to improve food security, nutrition, and environmental sustainability, but issues of safety must be considered, and potential problems associated with new products must be identified to ensure their safe and sustainable use and satisfy consumers. Considerable information has been gained from previous experiences with transgenic plants and animals relevant to gene editing and its products. Gene editing can be inherently more precise than other methods used to date, which could reduce the likelihood of any harmful effects on human health and the environment.

With a foreword written by the Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Jennifer Doudna, who also discovered the gene editing tool CRISPR, the Issue Paper contains six chapters on advances in plant and animal breeding; potential hazards, benefits, and gene editing's impacts on the environment and society; governance and regulation; and the roles of the private and public sectors and transformative partnerships.

For more details, download a copy of the Issue Paper on the FAO website.

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