Biology

USDA confirms it won't regulate CRISPR gene-edited plants like it does GMOs

A recent USDA statement has clarified that the agency views CRISPR gene-edited plants as very different to genetically modified organisms and suggests no regulation need be imposed on the industry
A recent USDA statement has clarified that the agency views CRISPR gene-edited plants as very different to genetically modified organisms and suggests no regulation need be imposed on the industry
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A recent USDA statement has clarified that the agency views CRISPR gene-edited plants as very different to genetically modified organisms and suggests no regulation need be imposed on the industry
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A recent USDA statement has clarified that the agency views CRISPR gene-edited plants as very different to genetically modified organisms and suggests no regulation need be imposed on the industry

A statement issued by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week has clarified that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently does not, and has no plans to, regulate gene edited plants or crops. As opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that involve adding genes from other organisms such as bacteria, the USDA considers gene-edited plants as being similar to plants developed through traditional breeding techniques and therefore require less regulatory oversight.

The USDA has been quietly approving CRISPR-edited products for some time now, with the unofficial stance being that unless other genetic material is being added to a plant then the crop deserves no special regulation. This new statement is the most official stance the regulatory body has released on the matter to date.

"With this approach, USDA seeks to allow innovation when there is no risk present," says Secretary Perdue. "At the same time, I want to be clear to consumers that we will not be stepping away from our regulatory responsibilities. While these crops do not require regulatory oversight, we do have an important role to play in protecting plant health by evaluating products developed using modern biotechnology."

The statement clarifies that this means the body will not regulate plants that undergo a variety of genetic changes, including genetic deletions, single base pair substitutions, or insertions from compatible plant relatives that could be generated through traditional plant breeding.

Recently, countries in Europe have also been grappling with this new conundrum, and while many have taken a hard line on GMOs, they are also drawing a big distinction between gene-editing and what is classically defined as a GMO. Both Germany and Sweden recently made individual rulings stating that gene-edited plants could not be classified the same as GMOs.

Due to a complicated regulatory framework in the United States, the USDA isn't the only agency to have a say in this matter. Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also play roles in overseeing these regulations, and the FDA in particular has the final say over the safety of food for human beings.

Despite the FDA currently offering no specific guidelines on genetically edited foods, a spokesperson has stated that the agency is currently considering the issue. However, the FDA did release controversial guidelines last year regarding genetically altered animals. The agency stated any genomic editing whatsoever in animals should not only trigger governmental oversight but also result in the animal product being classified as an "animal drug."

Following on from the recent debate over whether or not lab-grown meat should be called meat, it seems we are undoubtedly moving into new waters regarding food classifications as biotechnology rapidly progresses. Will the general public see any difference between GMO corn and CRISPR-edited corn? That's yet to be determined but this certainly is only the beginning of a new world of regulatory challenges for determining what is safe and what isn't.

Source: USDA

5 comments
piperTom
The article asks "Will the general public see any difference between GMO corn and CRISPR-edited corn?" The general public already doesn't notice the difference between either of those and the standard corn products. However, everyone will not just "notice", but be stunned by the difference in the ancient ancestor of maize, which humans gene-engineered by selective cultivation for 2000 years.
Expanded Viewpoint
And just who the heck do they think they are kidding with all of this fraud and subterfuge?? This is no different than the warped "logic" coming down from the idiots and psychopaths sitting in black robes, who claim that reverse discrimination is not discrimination!! Modified means modified, changed, not as it was originally! How is cutting and snipping, nipping and tucking here and there not modifying the original organism? What was the amount of fake money that was given to these spokesholes cretins for them to come up with this balderdash? What are herein called "classically defined as GMO plants" have already been shown to cause grievous harm to animals that eat them, how are any CRISPR "edited" plants going to be any better?? If anything is classical here, it is the classical example of a great folly being played out. These buffoons are playing with fire here, and they along with everyone else are going to get burned when the food chain is disrupted by all of these changes being made. Do they really think that more good than bad will come from their tinkering? Don't they care about the health and well being of future generations? If the food is not 100% natural, meaning as Nature made it, then it just needs to be identified as modified. And anyone caught violating that rule needs to be dealt with severely enough so they never do it again!! Randy
BrianK56
Would this be the same Food and Drug Administration that allowed the highly addictive pain medications to be over prescribed?
KungfuSteve
FDA doesnt regulate Jack. They pass Toxic Garbage on to the public every day... and attack those whom sell healthy + natural + cheaper , products. Furthermore... The changes are just as potentially Toxic / Dangerous, if not even more so, than anything ever before it! >__< With this tech, the Elite can probably put out products that are designed to target specific "Races", and or whomever they feel is genetically unfit to exist. Crisper still IS in fact Genetically Tampered with product. The process may be different... but the end result is the same. They believe the mass Sheep will somehow be confused and ignorant to the truth. Same way that they keep changing the names of Artificial Sweeteners and other Toxic Chem-Trash... so that the masses have a harder time with Lawsuits from the damages done.
akarp
This is another example of US regulators bought and paid for by large corporations. Just because it comes from the same plant, doesn't mean it cannot cause harm to humans. Example, generally safe materials such as copper and other metals become horrible for your system when we talk about nano-particles which are absorbed through cells.
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