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Old 11-03-2018, 09:28 AM   #9
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Does CRISPR gene editing = GMO? Biotechnology skeptics may split on how to regulate New Breeding Technologies
David Warmflash | Genetic Literacy Project | August 21, 2016

Are you ready for GMO labeling 2.0? The term "genetically modified organism" has never made sense as a designation for food using ingredients grown from seeds engineered using transgenic procedures; genetic engineering is a process not an end point. Now that confusion could be compounded if opponents of biotechnology succeed in efforts to have products made through various genet editing (GE) techniques categorized legally as genetically modified (GM).

In common usage, and in terms of regulations, "genetically modified (GM)" is equated with transgenic—altering the genome of a plant with a gene donated from a different species, with the donated species being plant, animal, fungal or microbial. This why the term "foreign DNA" is often used when talking about transgenics, although that word is technically incorrect, as many genes are shared all living species.

But a plant also can be engineered to express its own genes differently than how they are commonly expressed. One example of this is RNA interference (RNAi); this is the technique used to create the Simplot potato so it does not easily bruise, produce acrylamide on heating, or involve the insertion of additional genes into its genome. But anti-GM critiques refer to it as a "GMO" and a candidate for proposed GMO labels. They are lobbying the European Commission (EC) with the goal of bringing about a European ruling to classify new breeding technologies (NBT) and CRISPR edited sterile insects as GMOs, which would effectively ban them. Here is Greenpeace's rationale:

The European Commission is considering whether genetically modified organisms GMOs) [sic] that have been produced through a range of new techniques should be excluded from the European Union’s GMO regulations. Biotechnology companies want to apply these techniques to engineer plants and animals for use in industrial food, biomass and biofuel production. They argue that these new methods to directly modify the genetic make-up of living organisms fall outside the scope of EU GMO regulations. This would mean that there is no risk assessment, labeling and monitoring of GM organisms produced by the new techniques and their derived products. The Commission has announced that it will present a legal analysis on the matter by the end of March 2016.
Concerns of NGOs are based on a valid point that powerful technologies, such as CRISPR genome editing, could present grave dangers if they are used irresponsibly or before adequate research is done to ensure that the repercussions can be reasonably understand. There is great caution about human germ line for this very reason. We're not there yet, but we may be soon.

Another potential application of genome editing that has been cited as a potential example of biotechnology misuse is the use of gene drives to thwart insect-borne disease. A CRISPR-powered gene drive can be forced into a population by introducing a genetic sequence that drives the gene with its altered traits through successive.
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