Published: February 8, 2021

Category: GMO 2.0

Developers of gene-edited canola and alfalfa are falsely claiming their creations are non-GMO when in reality the leading non-GMO certification firms prohibit gene-edited products from being certified.

Gene-editing is more precise, they say, offering quicker results than conventional breeding—and because the process modifies genes already present in the plant instead of inserting foreign DNA, they claim it is a non-GMO technique.

Both claims are controversial. Although the USDA is not subjecting the products to GMO regulation, the leading non-GMO certifiers, including the Non-GMO Project and NSF, would not certify gene-edited products as non-GMO. Regarding precision, a recent Nature article found gene editing of human embryonic cells caused “chromosomal mayhem.”

Cibus has developed a trait protecting canola from white mold, a fungal pathogen affecting from 14% to 30% of Canada’s canola crop and causing huge yield losses. The company says the Rapid Trait Development System will enable Cibus to develop disease-tolerance traits in multiple major crops. This is one of Cibus’ 14 trait products.

Research on alfalfa, the third largest revenue generator in the U.S. after corn and soybeans, has become scanty and underfunded because it’s extremely time-consuming. With the advent of the gene-editing tool TALEN, S&W Seed Company has partnered with Calyxt to create a more digestible alfalfa. The lignin in alfalfa is indigestible—important for animal feed. The process inactivates one of the genes in the lignin biosynthetic pathway, creating an Improved Quality Alfalfa trait.

Sources: Business Wire; Hay and Forage

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights February 2021