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India Deregulates Some Gene-edited Plants

The Indian government assumes that these plants will be non-transgenic – but the uncertainties of gene editing could catch them unawares

The Indian government has exempted certain types of gene-edited plants from the country's genetically modified organism (GMO) regulations. GMWatch condemns the move as unscientific, irresponsible, and based on assumptions that could turn out to be false.

The change in rules, notified on Wednesday, will allow gene-edited plants without any “foreign” genes to be subjected to a weaker regulatory process than the one applied to other types of GMOs. A scientist working with GM technologies said the changes will exempt two categories of gene-edited products — in which genes are either disrupted to make them non-functional or altered to change the function of their protein product but not where a gene from another organism has been deliberately inserted — from being treated as GMOs.

These types of gene editing alterations that are supposedly without foreign genes are known in the EU as SDN-1 (gene deletion/disruption) and SDN-2 (gene alteration using a DNA "repair template"). SDN-3 involves the deliberate insertion of foreign genes and under India's new rules, GMOs developed using this technique will continue to fall under the existing GMO rules.