DNA-altered Soybeans Escape GMO Designation in U.S. Decision

Bloomberg writer Lydia Mulvany reported Friday that, “For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the hi-tech soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a frankenfood future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in three states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet unknown peril.

“In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there.”

The Bloomberg article noted that, “In a March 28 statement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said his department has no plans to regulate new plant varieties developed with gene editing, countering a European Union decision to designate the technique as producing GMO crops.

“In his statement, Perdue called gene-editing an ‘innovative’ technique that’s ‘indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods.’

The end result: Gene-edited plants can be developed and marketed in the U.S. much more quickly and at less cost than GMOs that blend DNA from different plant varieties, a highly regulated technique with mandated field trials that can take a decade or more to develop.”

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