Gene editing is cheaper, faster and far less controversial than traditional genetic modification, the Clemson researchers argued in support of the study.
“Previous efforts to create new HLB … resistant (citrus trees) focused on conventional breeding or development of transgenic plants,” the Clemson researchers noted. “Unfortunately, the approaches used in those projects are inadequate to meet the current crisis because of the lack of sources of resistance in citrus and time constraints associated with citrus breeding. Furthermore, genetic engineering presents many regulatory and public acceptance obstacles for transgenic citrus.”
Approval of new GMO traits developed with traditional genetic modification involves a complex regulatory process that can take years. Those regulatory barriers, for the most part, do not yet apply to gene-edited plants.
“The CRISPR-engineered citrus plants do not include foreign genes and are currently not restricted in the U.S.” the researchers said.
Whereas scientists traditionally add genetic material to produce genetically modified plants, the gene-editing process generally removes material.
If USDA’s Biotechnology Regulatory Services is convinced that no new material is being added to plants – as is generally the case in most genetically modified plants – it allows scientists to do their work without going through years of supervised test planting.
Can CRISPR Feed the World? That was also the question asked about GMO’s and we know where that led. So is it the same thing. In one very critical way, NO. This is not a Monsanto story yet and it may never be but one company controls the patent rights to the technology:
Since CRISPR is patented by the Broad Institute, any produce created using it can’t be sold unless the scientists behind it pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the right to use it.
“As researchers we benefit from the fact that we don’t have to pay up front to use this technology, which is wonderful, it’s such a powerful tool, but once we start talking commercialization, the cost of licensing just about knocked me off my chair,” says Van Eck.
and there’s already been a patent fight.
Q: So what’s the final word?
A: Stay tuned (and follow the money)
Since researchers filed the original CRISPR-Cas9 patents, the fast-paced field of CRISPR biology has moved on. Researchers have since discovered new enzymes to replace Cas9, and modified the CRISPR-Cas9 system to manipulate the genome in many ways, from editing individual DNA letters to activating gene expression.
Although CRISPR-Cas9 is still often the preferred CRISPR variety for researchers in both industry and academia, other systems may grow in popularity as scientists gain more experience with them. “This is still an incredibly important case for the present,” says Sherkow. “But it may not be an incredibly important case for the future.”