Approval for modified crops in America adds to disarray in UK on new-tech foodstuffs
American regulators have allowed the farming and sale of two crops modified with the gene-editing technique known as Crispr. The harvests a white button mushroom and a kind of corn are the first Crispr plants to be permitted for commercial use in the US.
The move is a boost for new technology in the creation of foodstuffs, but is expected to worsen the considerable confusion in Britain over the use of gene-editing in agriculture and the importing of crops created using such technology.
A committee of European commission regulators was expected to report last month on whether gene-edited crops should be classed as genetically-modified organisms or should be freed from the severe regulations concerning GMOs in Europe. At the last minute it announced a delay in its verdict to the consternation of many UK scientists.
The committee knew it would be highly controversial , no matter what decision it attained, so they have kicked the issue into the long grass, and that is very damaging, said crop scientist Professor Huw Jones of Aberystwyth university.
Researchers and plant breeders in the UK simply do not know whether it is worth investing day and fund in creating novel foods employing gene-editing, despite its enormous potential. At the same period the US has given clear signals of approving to its scientists.
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