GENE EDITING TECHNOLOGY PROVIDES LOOPHOLE FROM GMO REGULATION

SUMMARY: "Historically, genetically modified crops have contained genes from other organisms such as bacteria and require federal government approval."

Historically, genetically modified crops have contained genes from other organisms such as bacteria and require federal government approval.

However, crops such as Scott's new genetically modified grass that requires less mowing, appears greener and is resistant to the weed killer Roundup will not need federal approval, reports The New York Times.

The USDA will also not regulate a new herbicide-resistant canola, a corn that creates less pollution from livestock waste, a "switch grass" for biofuel production, or a plant that glows in the dark.

These GMOs will not be created by genetic engineering. They will be produced from genome-editing technologies such as CRISPR that alter the plant's existing DNA rather than inserting foreign DNA.

CRISPR can make a small changes in a gene similar to what would occur from conventional breeding — but quicker.

"The technology is always one step ahead of the regulators," said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, the head of biotechnology research at Syngenta.

"If you take genetic material from a plant and it's not considered a pest, and you don't use a transformation technology that would sort of violate the rules, there's a bunch of stuff you can do that at least technically is unregulated," said Jim Hagedorn, the chief executive of Scotts.

Since the new GMOs will not be labeled genetically engineered, they can legally be sold in countries and stores that have opposed genetically modified crops.

Small companies and universities will be more likely to experiment with and market novel crops. The cost to develop a genetically engineered crop averages $136 million, including $35 million in regulatory costs, reports The New York Times.

As a result of genome editing technology, there may be numerous new crops on the market that will lead to anxiety for some consumers, according to Jennifer Kuzma, the co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University.

"It's not that I think these are risky. But the very fact that this is the route we are taking without any discussion is troubling," Kuzma added.

SOURCE: Design & Trend
AUTHOR: Randall Mayes
URL: http://www.designntrend.com/articles/33496/20150104/gene-editing-technol...
DATE: 07.01.2015