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"Innovative plant breeding hampered by regulatory uncertainty"

Plant breeding is always on the move. Currently climate change, environmental concerns and changing consumer preferences are shaping the efforts of plant breeders. To tackle these challenges plant breeders have a growing toolbox of ever more precise plant breeding methods.

Plant breeders can only use innovative breeding tools to the benefit of society when there is clarity about the regulatory environment that applies to them. Today that clarity is missing for a number of innovative breeding methods including gene editing. In the paper ‘regulatory status of gene edited agricultural products’ René Custers unties the regulatory knot by clearly showing that the use of a method as such is not enough to trigger heavy legislation.

That heavy legislation only applies when the resulting organism has a genetic composition that goes beyond what can occur by mating and/or natural recombination. This means that plants carrying small genetic alterations generated by gene editing that can also occur in nature, do not trigger legislation beyond what applies to conventionally bred varieties. In such a regulatory context also small and medium sized plant breeding institutions and companies would be able to use these innovations to the benefit of society.

Source: VIB

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