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expert reaction to EU Advocate General’s Opinion on genome-edited crops and GM rules

The EU Advocate General published their opinion on whether some genome-edited crops should be exempt from EU GMO rules.

 

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, Group Leader, The Francis Crick Institute, said:

“If genome editing is used to make an alteration in the DNA of a plant or animal or, I assume, a microorganism, that could occur naturally or deliberately by mutagenesis, then it should be exempt from GMO regulations.  Of course, this does not mean the safety of eating a new food produced by genome editing methods should be ignored; they would be subject to the same rules as any newly introduced naturally occurring food.  (Many naturally occurring plants and animals contain toxins!)  In my view this is eminently sensible.  Indeed, one could argue that the precision of genome editing might be safer than the randomness of mutation (by chemicals or radiation), which has been the standard way to obtain genetic variation within, e.g. a plant species, from which new varieties are then selected.”

 

Prof Huw Jones, Chair in Translational Genomics for Plant Breeding, Aberystwyth University, said:

“I am happy that this proposal excludes simple gene editing from GMO regulation.  However, allowing member states to legislate independently will inevitably complicate innovation, commercialisation and trade in gene edited products.”

 

* https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2018-01/cp180004en.pdf

 

Declared interests

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge: “I have no conflicts of interest.”

Prof Huw Jones: https://ess.efsa.europa.eu/doi/doiweb/doisearch/panel/GMO/wg/681414

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