Gene editing guidelines facing delay

What is the News?

The Government of India is delaying in approving the Guidelines for Safety Assessment of Genome/Gene-Edited Plants.

What is Gene Editing?

Genome editing, also called gene-editing, is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA. These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome.

Read more: Gene Editing: An Analysis
What is the problem created due to the delay in the approval of Gene Editing Guidelines?

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute(IARI) had previously worked on golden rice, a traditional GM variety that inserted genes from other organisms into the rice plant. But the trials of golden rice was lasted over five years ago due to agronomic issues.

Then the IARI scientist moved to newer technologies such as Site-Directed Nuclease (SDN) 1 and 2 to develop resilient and high-yield rice varieties.

However, the proposal for Indian regulators to consider the SDN 1 and 2 technique as equivalent to conventional breeding methods has been pending with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee(GEAC) for almost two years.

Why are scientists calling SDN 1 and 2 techniques equivalent to conventional breeding methods?

SDN 1 and 2 techniques are equivalent to conventional breeding methods since it does not involve inserting any foreign DNA. These techniques basically aim to bring precision and efficiency into the breeding process using gene-editing tools such as CRISPR.

Under this technique, scientists just tweak a gene that is already there in the plant, without bringing in any gene from outside. This is just like nature does a mutation.

Moreover, this technique is also much faster and far more precise than natural mutation or conventional breeding methods which involve trial and error and multiple breeding cycles.

Source: This post is based on the articleGene editing guidelines facing delaypublished in The Hindu on 22nd October 2021.

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