Following a safety review, U.S. food regulators said short-haired cattle produced through gene editing can be raised for meat production. Meat from the cattle could be available for purchase in as little as two years, said the Food and Drug Administration.
Three decades into the agricultural biotechnology era, the USDA said on Thursday that it will exempt genetically engineered plants from pre-market reviews if they are unlikely to pose an environmental risk. Opponents of the move said it means "a majority of genetically engineered and gene-edited plants will now escape any oversight" by the USDA.
A government decision to deregulate gene-editing tools such as CRISPR met a last-stop challenge in the Australian Senate, with an organic farmers’ group expressing concerns that it will be “sacrificed for the sake of unregulated GMO tech.”
In its newest attempt to overhaul biotechnology rules adopted in 1987, the USDA said it would exempt new crop varieties created through techniques such as gene editing from regulatory review, so long as the modifications are similar to those achieved by traditional breeding and pose no plant-pest risks.
The relatively new field of gene editing is a form of genetic engineering, according to a European Court of Justice ruling that would make technology such as CRISPR subject to the same regulations as the “classical” genetic modification technology of the 1980s, reported BBC News.
Crops created by gene editing techniques such as CRISPR “might not need to be regulated by the strict European Union rules that govern genetically modified organisms,” said Nature, citing a formal opinion from an advocate general at the European Court of Justice.
One of the best-known scientists in the GMO world, Alison Van Eenennaam, “aims to create a bull that will father only male offspring” through a bit of gene editing with CRISPR, said MIT Technology Review.
The University of California has turned to the U.S. appeals court based in Washington, D.C., in a dispute with the Broad Institute over who owns the patents for the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR, says The Verge. "This means the heated battle over who owns one of the most revolutionary biotech inventions of our time will likely continue for months or even years from now," the report says.
The Agriculture Department will unveil today its proposal to update its regulatory framework of biotechnology. The plan is designed to speed up development of GE plants that do not pose a plant pest or weed risk, and to cover plants created through genome-editing techniques, such as CRISPR, if they pose plant pest or noxious-weed risk. At present, GE plants produced without the use of genetic sequences from plant pests — the traditional method of genetic modification — are not subject to federal biotechnology rules.
The second-largest seed company in the world, DuPont Pioneer, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, said they reached an agreement to jointly develop improved crops using the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas for smallholder farmers around the world. The agreement, announced at CIMMYT’s 50th anniversary conference in Mexico City, brings the new technology into the public breeding organization for the first time.
Umeå University in northern Sweden claims credit for serving “a meal for the future:” CRISPRy-fried vegetables over tagliatelle, a type of flat pasta similar to fettucine. An Umeå researcher and a reporter from a Radio Sweden gardening show harvested the gene-edited cabbage that was used in …
There is an emerging concern among scientists that the gene-editing technique CRISPR "might inadvertently alter regions of the genome other than the intended one," says STAT, the health and medicine site. Dr. J. Keith Joung of Massachusetts General Hospital says that algorithms used to predict off-target effects of gene editing "miss a fair number" of them.
The National Academy of Sciences, pointing to the emergence of new technology such as gene editing and the sometimes startling effects of conventional plant breeding, said the government should conduct safety reviews of all new plant varieties that pose potential hazards, not only the results of genetic engineering.
Two decades into the era of agricultural biotechnology, the United States is updating its regulatory system, in which USDA, EPA and FDA are the gatekeepers for commercialization of genetically modified crops and livestock.
Two gene-edited crops -- white button mushrooms and "waxy" hybrid corn -- are years from the market yet they already are creating turmoil in Britain over the use of gene-editing technology and the propriety of importing foods created with it, says The Guardian.
The second-largest seed company in the world, DuPont Pioneer, announced development of a new strain of waxy corn using CRISPR-Cas gene-editing technology.
Robb Fraley, chief technology officer for Monsanto, said in an interview that the world's largest seed company spends half of its research budget on classical plant breeding, speeded-up by genomic tools, writes Tom Philpott in Mother Jones.
USDA said a mushroom whose genes were edited is not subject to its biotechnology regulations because it contains no added genetic material.
"Transplanted heart valves routinely come from pigs as well as cows," says the Los Angeles Times, but it's not as simple to use swine organs for people who need kidneys, livers or lungs.