New example of specific changes outside the on-target region of the gene scissors
14 October 2021 / Experiments with CRISPR/Cas in zebrafish conducted by scientists at Uppsala University are the first to detect large structural changes at off-target sites. Off-target sites are outside the target site, but can be very similar, which means that the gene scissors can also cut at these sites and cause specific unintended mutations. The publication shows that major DNA changes are possible.
Possibility for the public to comment
7 October 2021 / While officially calling for adequate regulation and high safety standards, the EU Commission in reality seems to be following a different strategy: A document on future GMO regulation, published end of September, indicates a clear intention for far reaching deregulation of plants derived from new genetic engineering (New GE). Risks associated with the processes of New GE are either not given sufficient weight or are completely disregarded.
Higher concentration of carotene benefits plant-feeding insects
24 September 2021 / Recent publications show that genetically engineered (GE) plants fortified with vitamins pose a specific challenge in risk research. A higher content of carotene can be an advantage for insects feeding on the plants. This could be amongst the problems with so-called ‘Golden Rice’, which is to be grown in the Philippines. It will be the first GE plant grown in the fields that will produce additional carotene to improve vitamin A intake via consumption.
CRISPR plants reveal the complex risks of genome editing
6. September 2021 / Genetically engineered (GE) wheat with a supposedly reduced concentration of acrylamide after baking is to be tested in field trials in the UK. Scientists there have successfully used CRISPR/Cas to block a gene function involved in production of the amino acid asparagine, which is important for the concentration of acrylamide after baking. However, asparagine is also involved in seed germination, the growth of the plants, their stress responses and disease defences. As scientific publications show, the risks are complex and need to be assessed in detail.