By vast

Published: November 26, 2019

Category: GMO News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

Gene editing and RNA interference are powerful new genetic engineering techniques with no history of safe use and when these techniques are applied to living organisms, they should be regulated in the same way as other genetic modification (GM) techniques. That is the opinion of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) who recently released a statement about the new GM technologies.

According to ENSSER: “There is no guarantee that the use of these techniques will result in predictable outcomes or that any resulting products will be safe. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned that deregulation of some processes will result in the use of these techniques on living organisms in the open environment—a practice without precedent or a history of safe use.”

The recent discovery that cattle that had been gene-edited to be hornless unexpectedly contained antibiotic resistance genes from bacteria illustrates why all gene-editing techniques should be regulated. The company which gene-edited the cattle had claimed “we have all the scientific data that proves that there are no off-target effects.” After the discovery by others that genes from bacteria had been inserted into the cattle during the procedure, the company admitted “we did not look for [these bacterial genes]” and acknowledged a more thorough examination of the work “should have been done.”

ENSSER said: “We cannot leave public and environmental safety to the expectations or assumptions of those who alter the genetics of living things and whatever potential hazards they chose to look for. Instead, we need impartial regulators empowered by strong legislation to protect public health and the environment.”

Regulation does not prevent responsible industries from bringing forward safe products that are sought by the public. However, it is essential to provide a series of checks and balances to stop potentially dangerous products from being released into our environment and food chain.”

Source: European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility

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