CRISPR Conundrum

July 23, 2019

Strict European court ruling leaves food-testing labs without a plan. Scientists struggle to detect the unauthorized sale of gene-edited crops whose altered DNA can mimic natural mutations

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If you take genes from another kind of plant, or bacteria, and insert them into a crop like soybeans, the result is considered a GMO. You need government approval to sell a new GMO. If you just take a snippet out of a gene without inserting anything new, though, the product falls into a gray area

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Tired of regulatory confusion and a lack of funding, some US researchers are taking their gene-edited livestock abroad

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Philip Loring writes that calls for strict science-based decision making on complex issues like GMOs and geoengineering can shortchange consideration of ethics and social impacts

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If we decide to use it. The debate over whether to use genetically modified mosquitoes to fight malaria, explained

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To feed the burgeoning human population, it is vital that the world figures out ways to boost food production. Increasing crop yields through conventional plant breeding is inefficient – the outcomes are unpredictable and it can take years to decades to create a new strain. On the other hand, powerful genetically modified plant technologies can quickly yield new plant varieties, but their adoption has been controversial

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In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the green light to a version of the plant Camelina sativa, an important oilseed crop that had been genetically engineered using CRISPR to produce enhanced omega-3 oil. What was interesting about this approval was that the USDA did not ask that the inventors of the plant endure the usual regulatory hoops required to sell biotech crops

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Here’s something that may sound like a contradiction in terms: low-fat pigs. But that’s exactly what Chinese scientists have created using new genetic engineering techniques

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