What is Gene-Editing?
Gene-editing is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA by allowing genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome. Gene editing therefore offers a tremendous potential to make precise modifications to a plant’s genes, bestowing them with things like enhanced drought tolerance, reduced susceptibility to disease and numerous other desirable traits.
Through gene editing, future crops could thrive with reduced fertiliser usage, fewer pesticides, less land and less water, paving the way for a more sustainable agriculture model and improved global food security.
It is to be noted that gene-editing is different from genetic modification (GMO) because it does not result in the introduction of DNA from other species and creates new varieties similar to those that could be produced more slowly by natural breeding processes.2
However, the European Union has been cautious in embracing gene editing, making it the largest bloc worldwide yet to fully embrace this technology. Compared to countries like the United States and Argentina, which have successfully implemented gene-edited crops, the EU’s current proposal does not entirely exempt NGTs from biotechnology-specific regulations. While it aims to bolster transparency and potentially ease market entry for a broader range of NGTs, concerns still loom over possible political interference and unwarranted delays in the verification process.