Dilemmas in the assessment of gene-edited crops


Date(s) - 10 oktober 2019
09:30 - 17:05


Lecture at COGEM symposium Gene-edited Crops,


The revolutionary innovations in plant biotechnology since 2005 have created prospects for genetically engineered crops that are essentially different from plants bred through traditional genetic modification. The risks for human health and the environment for crops obtained through new plant breeding techniques, are, however, still evaluated under regulations that were developed in the days of classical, vector-based plant breeding. This creates a tension between ongoing scientific developments and regulatory frameworks that is not sustainable in the long term. The Netherlands Commission on Genetic Modification (COGEM) has addressed this tension in its “Trend Analysis Biotechnology” of 2016. In addition COGEM has advised the Ministry to consider gene-editing as a form of directed mutagenesis, to evaluate a gene-edited crop on the basis of its genetic and phenotypic properties (rather than on how it was made), and to consider the natural range of variation within a sexually compatible group of plants as a basis for evaluating the “foreignness” of new genetic elements. In the coming years, the challenge will be how to strike a reasonable balance between new scientific insights and regulatory precaution while maintaining the trust of the general public.