EU Court Ruling Lumps CRISPRd Crops With GMOs

first_img CRISPR crops are no different from genetically modified organisms, and they should be subject to the same rigid regulations, Europe’s highest court ruled.The decision, determined this week by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, is a major blow to proponents of gene-edited foods.A 2001 EU directive, aimed at species into which entire genes had been inserted, limits the planting and sale of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) across the continent.Plants made using the technique of mutagenesis—the changing of DNA without adding foreign genetic material—developed before 2001 are exempt from the law.Advocates argue that genetic superweapon CRISPR, heralded for its advancements in curing disease, should not be highly regulated. After all, the resulting crops are exactly what you’d get through the much slower process of breeding.Alas, the Court of Justice this week announced that “organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs.”“In so far as the techniques and methods … alter the genetic material of an organism in a way that does not occur naturally,” according to the ruling, published on Wednesday.Washington, D.C.-based environmental organization Friends of the Earth applauded the court’s “forward-thinking decision,” suggesting that “all product made with genetic engineering … should be regulated, assessed for health and environmental impacts, and labeled.”Many researchers, however, believe this may be the beginning of the end for plant biotech in Europe.Crop geneticist Nigel Halford, a professor at Rothamsted Research in the UK, called the conclusion “tremendously disappointing,” telling Nature that “it’s a real hit to the head.”Stefan Jansson, a plant physiologist at Umeå University in Sweden, agreed, adding that “this will have a chilling effect on research, in the same way that GMO legislation has had a chilling effect for 15 years now.”While gene-editing techniques aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, there is some concern that European companies will lose interest in manufacturing them.As per this legislation, all new inventions—including CRISPR-Cas9 food—will have to go through the EU’s lengthy approval process.“From a practical perspective, I don’t think this will be at all of interest for business,” Kai Purnhagen, a legal scholar at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, explained to Nature. “So they will move somewhere else.”There is a possible loophole, though: If scientists can prove their gene-editing techniques are as safe as mutagenesis methods already exempt from the law (i.e. irradiation), they, too, could earn immunity.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. CRISPR-Modified Babies Cursed With Short LifespanAntidote to Deadly Box Jellyfish Venom Discovered Stay on targetlast_img

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