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New breeding techniques are emerging rapidly from advances in genomic research, for application in crop improvement. They enable precise, targeted, reliable changes in the genome (and, thus, are different from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), produced previously) and have significant potential for the sustainable intensification of agriculture and food security, when used as part of the deployment of all available approaches and building on existing good agronomic practice. Unlike chemical- or radiation-induced mutagenesis, often traditionally used as a basis for crop improvement, the new breeding techniques do not create multiple, unknown, unintended mutations throughout the genome.
For several of the techniques, the resultant plant product is free from genes foreign to the species and would not be distinguishable from the product generated by conventional breeding techniques. This calls into question what is meant by genetic modification and raises issues for the modernisation of regulatory frameworks.
Deputy Head International Relations Department; Executive Director, EASAC Secretariat
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