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Meridian Institute

USDA Should Establish a Science-Based Regulatory System to Address Genetically Engineered and Gene-Edited Crops

Summary posted by Meridian on 5/18/2017

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest (15 May 2017)

Author(s): Greg Jaffe

In this blog post, Gregory Jaffe, the Director of the Project on Biotechnology for the United States-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, argues that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, instead of regulating genetically engineered crops based on the technique used to introduce the new gene, should establish a science-based regulatory system for both GE and gene-edited crops that is based on the potential risk of the crop’s new characteristic. Currently, USDA’s regulatory system for GE crops is based on its legal authority to manage “plant pests.” A GE crop is considered a potential “plant pest” if any of its newly introduced DNA comes from an organism on the plant pest list, or if one of those on the list was involved in the method of introducing DNA into the crop’s genome. The USDA, despite beliefs to the contrary, does not determine the safety of all GE plants. Gene-edited crops receive the same regulatory system. Jaffe writes: “USDA should regulate GE and gene-edited crops proportionally based on their potential risks to agriculture and/or the environment. Such a system would not regulate solely based on how the product was made or the inclusion of plant-pest DNA, but rather primarily on the newly introduced characteristic. Simple gene deletions that produce phenotypes (or genotypes) found in nature might only get minimal or no oversight, while the introduction of an herbicide-resistance gene might be regulated with risk-management conditions that delay the development of resistant weeds. Such a system would allow USDA to focus on potential impacts, such as preventing resistant weeds and resistant pests, rather than on the extremely unlikely chance of introducing a plant-pest risk. If USDA cannot implement a risk-based regulatory system under existing laws, Congress should provide USDA with the legal authority to set up such a regulatory system.”

The original article may still be available at https://cspinet.org/news/biotech-blog-usda-should-establish-science-based-regulatory-system-address-genetically

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