Agriculture & Food Systems Institute Executive Director, Dr. Morven McLean, participated in the panel session titled "Country Perspectives on Gene Editing Regulation" at the International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR) Conference on Disruptive Innovations, Value Chains and Rural Development, organized in partnership with the World Bank. The multidisciplinary forum aimed to facilitate interactions between leading academics, World Bank staff, policymakers, government experts, civil society organizations, private-sector representatives, and representatives of other international organizations.

Panel Session
Country Perspectives on Gene Editing Regulation

The world of digitization is rapidly moving into the realm of agriculture in general and specifically into plant breeding. Precision and understanding of genetic changes have been enhanced thought the application of digital biology to plant breeding. Gene editing has exploded upon the agriculture sector in the past few years, challenging how these technologies will be regulated given the inability of regulators to know for certain what process was used to create the variety. This issue has created substantial challenges for regulatory systems that are process-based, as the uncertainty around regulation of gene editing has thrown these systems into gridlock.

It is important that the regulatory frameworks for gene editing technologies, such as for CRISPR, not be onerously strident, but rather build upon the knowledge and information gained through 25 years of regulating genetically modified crop varieties. For gene editing technologies to be successful contributors to improving food security in developing countries, it is essential that public research institutions be capable of developing and commercializing crop varieties without having to gain international commodity export market approvals, as public institutions lack the financial resources capable of this.

ICABR 2018
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