Future of breeding by genome editing is in the hands of regulators

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We are witnessing the timely convergence of several technologies that together will have significant impact on research, human health and in animal and plant breeding. The exponential increase in genome and expressed sequence data, the ability to compile, analyze and mine these data via sophisticated bioinformatics procedures on high-powered computers, and developments in various molecular and in-vitro cellular techniques combine to underpin novel developments in research and commercial biotechnology. Arguably the most important of these is genome editing which encompasses a suite of site directed nucleases (SDN) that can be designed to cut, or otherwise modify predetermined DNA sequences in the genome and result in targeted insertions, deletions, or other changes for genetic improvement. It is a powerful and adaptive technology for animal and plant science, with huge relevance for plant and animal breeding. But this promise will be realized only if the regulatory oversite is proportionate to the potential hazards and has broad support from consumers, researchers and commercial interests. Despite significant progress in research and development and one genome edited crop close to commercialization, in most regions of the world it still remains unclear how or whether this fledgling technology will be regulated. The various risk management authorities and biotechnology regulators have a unique opportunity to set up a logical, appropriate and workable regulatory framework for gene editing that, unlike the situation for GMOs, would have broad support from stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalGM crops & food
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2016


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