Plants genetically modified with CRISPR, - are these GMOs?



Summoned for the first time to comment on a plant that had been genetically modified by CRISPR, the US Department of Agriculture deemed that its administration “did not have the power to regulate the cultivation of a Paris mushroom genetically modified using CRISPR”. It announced that it had “no legal basis to impose examination of the crop by the FDA[1]. This “decision is tantamount to a green light to use the new variety”. However, the FDA may still decide to back-track on the subject.

 

Yinong Yang, a physiopathologist at Pennsylvania State University genetically edited a Paris mushroom “to increase its life cycle and therefore its shelf life/best before date”. To do this, he removed six genes from the mushroom that were “responsible for the brown colour that spreads on the surface of a cut fruit or vegetable”.

 

According to the USDA, this mushroom is not a genetically modified organism (GMO) because “no foreign virus or bacterium was added to the plant genome by transgenesis”. “Only six genes were removed” with CRISPR.

 

The American administration is nevertheless questioning itself “on the need to alter the regulatory process”.  The American Science Academy is leading an international think-tank on CRISPR. This is also a question asked by all developed countries but generating different answers. The European Union “must give detailed advice on this subject, which has been eagerly awaited for months by those in favour and those against”. In France, the“subject has triggered conflict within the Haut Conseil des Biotechnologies (High Biotechnology Council)” (see“Plants of the future” trigger lively debate at the French High Biotechnology Council). The stakes are high: “If new hybridisation techniques were not actually viewed as genetic modifications, they would escape current labelling and consumer information legislation required for GMO products”.

[1] Food and Drug Administration.

 


Sources: 

Sciences & Avenir (26/04/2016)