In recent years, there has been much discussion of how gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR, can broaden the scope of genetic engineering in agriculture. However, it’s becoming clear that gene editing techniques are error prone.
This new report from Friends of the Earth U.S., cowritten by ENSSER member Janet Cotter, compiles the growing evidence demonstrating the unintended consequences and surprise impacts that may result from gene-edited plants and animals, including so-called “gene drives”. The report highlights the unintended effects and potential risks related to gene editing applications in agriculture as reported in peer-reviewed scientific studies. Research gaps in the analysis of how gene editing in agriculture may negatively impact human health and ecosystems are identified and concerns regarding the lack of regulatory oversight in the U.S. articulated. The report also addresses the question of whether gene editing is necessary in agriculture, as modern conventional breeding offers an alternative, and possibly better, option in the development of new varieties of plants and animals.
Cotter, J. & Perls, D. (2018) Gene-edited organisms in agriculture: risks and unexpected consequences. Friends of the Earth U.S. http://foe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/FOE_GenomeEditingAgReport_final.pdf