Is gene-editing doomed to the same fate as GMOs? Coalition offers alternative path to public trust

Couched as an “invitation” to “scientists, product developers, policymakers, regulators, companies, civil society and consumers,”​ the principles​ published in Nature Biotechnology​ on Monday seek to “build upon lessons learned from the deployment of GMOs,”​ that cultivated a culture of public mistrust, and instead pave the way for “a more trusted, inclusive and tailored regulatory approach to gene editing.”

The principles, developed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund US with help from the Keystone Policy Center, include effective, science-based government regulation; voluntary best practices that complement regulatory oversight; risk avoidance and delivery of tangible societal benefits; robust and inclusive societal engagement; inclusive access to technology and resources; and transparency around gene editing products in the environment.

While the principles are focused on gene-editing, their creators note that they could apply to almost any technology – potentially paving the way for fair and efficient oversight of future advancements.

Gene-editing is here, but adequate oversight is not

The framework comes at a time when gene-editing technology already is being used to develop new products that could soon be introduced into commerce, such as a modified wheat​ gluten that celiac suffers can eat safely, heat tolerant wheat​, non-browning mushrooms​, and apples​ resistant to some disease.

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