According to new research carried out by Testbiotech, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already given non-regulated status to more than 20 plants genetically engineered with so-called genome editing techniques. None of the applications registered at the USDA were referred for further more detailed assessment.
The Testbiotech report published today shows that there are however significant differences in methods of production, traits and risks of the non-regulated plants in comparison to those derived from conventional breeding.
These differences are not caused by the newly introduced gene sequences but by e.g. the patterns of genetic changes. ‘Gene-scissors’ such as CRISPR/Cas can delete whole families of gene variants all at once – this is either impossible or barely possible with current conventional breeding methods. A further specific difference: in a first step, older methods such as the ‘gene gun’ (biolistic method) or gene transfer via agrobacterium tumefaciens are commonly used. However, the USDA completely ignores these differences to conventional breeding.