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US regulators clarify stance on CRISPR'd food

9 April 2018
Appeared in BioNews 944

CRISPR greens may soon be served in the USA: the US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue clarified the stance of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on crops that have been genome edited using the tool. Such plants can be developed and sold free from regulation.

'With this approach, USDA seeks to allow innovation when there is no risk present,' said Secretary Perdue.

The USDA typically does not regulate genetically edited plants that could theoretically have been developed through traditional breeding techniques (as long as they are not developed using plant pests). But its clarification comes in light of 'innovative breeding techniques' including genome editing, which is much faster than traditional breeding at altering crops.

The agency noted that genome editing could potentially 'introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers'.

The USDA is one of three federal agencies that regulate products of food and agricultural technology in the USA, alongside the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

'Plant breeding innovation holds enormous promise for helping protect crops against drought and diseases while increasing nutritional value and eliminating allergens,' Secretary Perdue stated. 'This new innovation will help farmers do what we aspire to do at USDA: do right and feed everyone.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Crispr’d Food, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You
Wired |  30 March 2018
Secretary Perdue Issues USDA Statement on Plant Breeding Innovation
US Department of Agriculture |  28 March 2018
The USDA Just Gave the Green Light to CRISPR'd Food
Gizmodo |  30 March 2018
You could be eating CRISPR food in five years
OZY |  30 March 2018
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