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The CRISPR/Cas ‘gene scissors’ birthday

Ten years ago a crucial scientific paper paved the way for New Genetic Engineering

9 August 2022 / On 17 August, ten years ago, a crucial scientific paper officially published, for the first time described how CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to induce targeted genetic changes in the genome. It is a process which uses an RNA molecule as a ‘tracer’ to guide the gene scissors to a specific site in the genome where they are activated. The enzyme Cas9 vital to this process was originally found in bacteria and belongs to the category of nucleases which have the potential to cut the double strands of DNA.

Prospective technology assessment essential for New GE in agriculture

EU Commission heavily criticised for one-sided approach

19 July 2022 / Testbiotech is demanding that applications of New GE (new genomic techniques, NGTs) in agriculture should undergo a comprehensive prospective technology assessment. The demand is being made against the backdrop of a public consultation organised by the EU Commission on the future regulation of genetically engineered plants. Testbiotech is warning that the Commission is aiming to lower standards in the approval processes to an extent which is equivalent to deregulation.

Biased questions and flawed assumptions

How the EU Commission and EFSA are paving the way for deregulation of New GE

30 June 2022 / Testbiotech recently participated in an European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consultation on guidelines for the risk assessment of ‘cisgenic’ plants, which ended at the beginning of this week. The ‘cisgenic’ plants are genetically engineered, but, in contrast to transgenic plants, contain no genetic material from other species. EFSA suggests that most applications of CRISPR/Cas can be put into this category. The consultation is, therefore, generally relevant to the risk assessment of plants derived from New GE (also called new genomic techniques, NGT).