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15.03.2019 |

US example shows why "new GM" crop plants must be regulated

Risk assessments and labelling needed for each "new GMO" to protect people and environment

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already given non-regulated status to more than 20 plants genetically engineered with so-called genome editing techniques, according to research by Testbiotech. None of the applications registered at USDA were referred for further more detailed assessment. The Testbiotech report published today shows that there are, however, significant differences in methods of production, traits, and risks of the non-regulated plants, in comparison to those derived from conventional breeding.

These differences are not caused by the newly introduced gene sequences but by the patterns of genetic changes. "Gene-scissors" such as CRISPR/Cas can delete whole families of gene variants all at once – but this is either impossible or barely possible with current conventional breeding methods. A further specific difference is that in a first step, older methods such as the "gene gun" (biolistic method) or gene transfer via Agrobacterium tumefaciens are commonly used. However, USDA completely ignores these differences to conventional breeding.

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