CATEGORIES: Conference

“What Triggers Regulation of Gene-Edited Crops? A Cross-National Assessment”

Presented by Dr. Milind Kandlikar. Researched in collaboration with Sara Nawaz.

Researchers have only just begun to apply gene-editing techniques to crop breeding. These techniques, which differ from well-known genetic modification techniques, spell questions for regulatory oversight: will current rules-of-play apply, or do new techniques necessitate fundamental shifts in regulations? Thus far, little explicit attention has focused on the fundamental yet elusive question of which technical specifics trigger regulation, and where different jurisdictions ‘draw the line’ between which products must be regulated. Here, we trace these lines in key jurisdictions. We argue that extant regulatory definitions of what it means for a crop to be genetically “modified” is being challenged in the face of emerging technologies, particularly in light of emerging epigenetic techniques, and assert that this regulatory breakdown poses a threat to the responsible innovation. Instead, we propose a shift away from technically or definitionally based regulatory approaches and towards more holistic oversight based on broader societal and ecological implications.


Prof. Milind Kandlkar is Professor and Director at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. He also has an appointment in UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. Prof. Kandlikar works on new and emerging technologies, and their consequences for human development and the global environment. His current projects include: quantifying the co-benefits of air pollution reduction for climate change mitigation, the regulation of genetic technologies in agriculture; risks and benefits of emerging forms of electrified transport might play in developing countries. He has also worked extensively on the science and policy of climate change.

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