The biotech industry has long insisted that genetic engineering is no different than, or at the very least a continuum, of traditional plant breeding techniques—a myth perpetuated by the industry to shield it from public criticism, as well as from regulatory oversight.
But a new study from the biotech industry itself admits that there are in fact significant differences between new methods of genetic engineering, including the gene-editing technique CRISPR, and conventional plant breeding, further dispelling the claim that the two methods are one in the same.
In the U.S., there is yet no meaningful law requiring the labeling of GMO foods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said it won’t even regulate gene-editing techniques, much less require labels on foods produced by those technologies.
The USDA supports its no-regulation position by claiming that gene-editing technologies “are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods.”
That claim isn’t shared by EU regulators. And it isn’t supported by scientists at DowDuPont, the world’s largest chemical company.