Agricultural Gene Editing—Regulations, Labeling, and Research

A National Geographic article from last year provided an overview of the “Next Food Revolution.” Many others have written or spoke about gene-editing techniques, and several scientists have been voicing their opinions about the process. The method has the potential to change the foods we eatboosting flavor, disease resistance, and yields—but views differ about how fast to proceed, especially with animal-based foods. The direction this science takes could depend on consumer acceptance, so credible information is a key. Scores of opinions, articles, and reports surface weekly about gene-editing issues, and here are links to six recent posts about this exciting topic. 

Greg Jaffe (CSPI Biotechnology Director) thinks the federal government should establish a national gene-edited-crops registry so that consumers, journalists, food companies, and anyone else who is interested can easily identify the gene-edited crops and ingredients in our food. “To do so will help allay consumer concerns about this emerging technology and allow the benefits of this new technology to be realized.” 

Alison Van Eenennaam (UC-Davis) says the proposed regulatory approach for genome editing in animals will effectively make it cost prohibitive for both U.S. researchers and livestock producers to use and potentially benefit from genome editing in food animal breeding programs. She points out that more than 300 scientists support a petition calling for the harmonization of U.S. gene-edited food regulations that was launched in January at the 2019 Plant and Animal Genome meeting.

Two years ago, CAST published a commentary led by Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes (University of Missouri-Columbia)—The Impact of Asynchronous Approvals for Biotech Crops on Agricultural Sustainability, Trade, and Innovation. The report outlines the main economic effects of the observed asynchrony in approvals for biotech-improved crops from regulatory systems in countries that are major global commodity exporters and importers.
In January, China approved five GM crops for import during a visit from a U.S. trade delegation in what one Chinese official said was a goodwill gesture toward resolving the trade dispute.
In Australia, some scientists urge caution while others promote more relaxed standards regarding gene technology. The government has recently announced changes in their regulations.

Control is less regulatory in Brazil according to an agriculture specialist. This video focuses on gene-edited cows that have been engineered for warmer climates

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