Crop Biotech Update

Regulatory Frameworks Among Factors that Affect Genome Editing Adoption, According to Experts

October 20, 2022

After conducting interviews and surveys from participants in different regions across the globe, biotech experts from the University of Edinburgh and the International Livestock Research Institute were able to determine that a global consensus and harmonization of regulatory frameworks by different countries are important to avoid regulatory bottlenecks and disruptions in global trade of genome-edited products.

The participants of the study were from the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Kenya, Zambia, the European Union, and Australia. Based on the responses, the researchers who conducted the study first identified specific opportunities presented by genome editing technology. These included:

  • Flexible and affordable tools to attain agricultural productivity, environmental and food sustainability, and farm profitability;
  • Addressing food insecurity, malnutrition, climate change mitigation, and pest and disease pressures; 
  • Development of products that address public health concerns, like disease transmission; and
  • Access to technological innovation by small- and medium-sized stakeholders.

The challenges that were identified include:

  • Regulatory asymmetry affecting regulatory trade, wherein exporters risk unintentionally taking their products to countries that have different regulatory schemes than their own;
  • Public perception and acceptance of genome-edited products;
  • Risks associated with genome-edited products and the determination of an acceptable level of risk.

On the other hand, the factors that were found critical to genome editing potentials related to sustainable agricultural environments are:

  • The establishment of legal certainty to provide certainty to product developers by determining the path to market and providing assurance to the public that risks related to the genome-edited product will be properly managed;
  • Providing farmers sound options in selecting agricultural practices and products to optimize economic, social, ethical and environmental benefits; and
  • Global transparency and cooperation in establishing regulatory frameworks for the application of genome editing technologies to facilitate their safe and beneficial use in addressing challenges related to food security and climate change.

The researchers also suggested that early stakeholder engagement and communication to the public should be conducted even before the genome-edited products are ready for the market to foster public acceptance.

Read the full article in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

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