Guidelines For Safety Assessment Of Genome Edited Plants, 2022:
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has issued guidelines easing norms for research into Genetically Modified (GM) crops and circumventing challenges of using foreign genes to change crops profile.
- Earlier, the Government has allowed genome-edited plants without the cumbersome GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) regulation at the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
Highlights of the Guidelines:
- It exempts researchers who use gene-editing technology to modify the genome of the plant from seeking approvals from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
- The GEAC evaluates research into GM plants and recommends, or disapproves, their release into farmer fields.
- The final call, however, is taken by the Environment Minister as well as States where such plants could be cultivated. The Environment Ministry too has sanctioned this exemption.
- The guidelines provide a road map for the sustainable use of genome editing technologies and applicable to public and private sector research institutions engaged in research and development and handling of genome edited plants.
- Most often, GM plants that have drawn such scrutiny are those that use transgenic technology or introduce a gene from another species into a plant, such as BT-cotton, which uses a soil bacterium gene to protect against pest attack.
- The worry around this method is that these genes may spread to neighbouring plants, where such effects are not intended and so their applications have been controversial.
- Genome editing enables modification of plants’ owned genes, without insertion of external genes, as with GM crops.
Genome-edited varieties possess no foreign DNA and are indistinguishable from crops developed through conventional plant-breeding methods, or using naturally occurring mutations.