Gene editing has enormous potential to improve health and food production, but innovation must be governed by well-rooted standards of safety and effectiveness, said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. "The agency is a trusted global regulator and we are committed to overseeing this space in a manner that fosters innovation, protects consumer confidence and protects the public health."
An international team of researchers has mapped the “jumping genes,” formally named transposable elements, or transposons, in corn, says UC-Davis. “The discovery could ultimately benefit the breeding and production of maize, one of the world’s most important crops.”
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.
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.
Researchers may complete a sequencing of the notoriously complex genome of bread wheat in two years, rather than the four or five years that was expected, says Country Guide.
An international team of scientists published the genome of canola, the second most-widely grown oilseed in the world and a source of desirable omega-3 fatty acids.
Bread wheat is a complex plant, with up to 124,000 genes, more than twice the number in rice, the other major food grain of the world. The vast number of genes made some researchers doubt if it is possible to map the genome - "to figure out how its genes are ordered so that specific traits can be more quickly identified. But a group made up of scientists, breeders and growers say that they’re more than halfway there and that an entire sequence is on the horizon," says the Washington Post.