USA and plant breeding innovation: USDA will not regulate some genome edited plants

Secretary Perdue Issues USDA Statement on Plant Breeding Innovation. Washington, D.C., March 28, 2018. Press Release No. 0070.18,  Contact: USDA Press, Email: press@oc.usda.gov

Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement in favour of Plant Breeding Innovation. In the US, the USDA will not regulate genome-edited plants (obtained, for example, through CRISPR tools), as long as they are not pest plants or developed using plant pests, and as long as the resulting genetic alleles could have been also introduced by any traditional breeding technique. In other words, if the CRISPR-derived allele matches an allele previously existing in nature the resulting genome edited plants will not be regulated by USDA. This decision is expected to favour Plant Breeders and researchers in the field of Plant Breeding innovation and is also expected to expedite the development of numerous genome edited plants resistant to drought and diseases or with increased nutritional value.

In Europe some hints towards a similar direction have been seen last January, with the publication of an Opinion by the EU lawyer of the Court of Justice of the European Union on a recent dispute ongoing in France. However, to date, the European Commission, through the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) has not yet issued a final decision on the subject.

 

Author: Lluis

Lluis Montoliu (Barcelona, Spain, 1963) graduated in Biological Sciences (1986) and obtained his PhD in Molecular Genetics (1990) at the University of Barcelona. Research Scientist of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) at the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB), in Madrid (Spain) since 1997, after two postdoctoral periods in Heidelberg (German Cancer Research Center, 1991-1995) and Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona, 1995-96). Since 2007 appointed researcher at the Spanish Research Initiative on Rare Diseases (CIBERER-ISCIII) where he is now serving at its Steering Committee. Since 1998 he is Honorary Professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid and, since 2007, Director of the Spanish node of the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA/INFRAFRONTIER) Spanish node. Including his PhD, from 1986, where he worked in plant molecular genetics, in maize, he has been always working on the genetic modification of organisms (GMOs). Since 1991 he has been working in several scientific projects within the field of animal transgenesis. At the CNB he leads a research team interested in basic science, to understand the mechanisms controlling gene expression and organization in mammalian genomes, and in applied science, generating animal models for the study of human rare diseases, such as albinism. He has pioneered the use of in vivo genome-editing CRISPR approaches in Spain for the functional analysis of the non-coding genome. He is the current President of the European Society for Pigment Cell Research (ESPCR) and serves at the boards of additional societies (IFPCS, IMGS, ACB). In 2006, he founded the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) for which he has served as President since inception to 2014. He is a member of the CSIC Ethics Committee and the Ethics Panel of ERC in Brussels. In addition to research he is also interested in bioethics, education and popular science.

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