European Scientists: Products of new genetic modification techniques should be strictly regulated as GMOs

New genetic modification techniques (NGMTs) are increasingly being developed and applied to generate new varieties of food crops and livestock animals. They are also being used for other purposes, such as to develop gene drives[2]. They include – but are not restricted to – CRISPR-Cas/Cpf, TALENs, zinc finger nucleases, oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis, cisgenesis, transgrafting, and RNA-dependent DNA methylation. These techniques are sometimes referred to as “new (plant) breeding techniques” (NBTs or NPBTs)[3]. Some of them are also referred to as “genome editing” or “gene editing” techniques (CRISPR-Cas/Cpf, TALENs, zinc finger nucleases, oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis). These genome altering tools are also being used to expedite developments in synthetic biology, as one of the aims of these developments is to engineer novel biochemical pathways, and thus characteristics, into organisms ranging from viruses, bacteria and plants to animals[4]. While in medicine these methods are recognized as important tools that produce unprecedented genetic modifications, advocates in other disciplines seem to suggest that a different standard should be applied to their application in other fields. Such is the case in what we term here environmental applications, including agriculture as well as the management of a diversity of other ecological situations, e.g. insect-vectored epidemics, weed-control, and many others. The signatories below assert that products of NGMTs should be strictly regulated as GMOs….

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