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

Date: 4.4.2018 

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. 
Kredit: USDA.

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.



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