Campaign to STOP GE Trees Board Member and Scientific Advisor Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher recently published an article titled, “GM 2.0? ‘Gene-editing’ produces GMOs that must be regulated as GMOs” in tandem with Janet Cotter for TheEcologist.org.
The article covers the European Union’s consideration of excluding gene-edited plants and animals from genetic modification regulations. The Steinbrecher and Cotter argue that gene-edited organisms not only fall within the definition of GMOs in both European and international law, they also present real risks to the environment and human health.
Many of the gene-editing techniques are so new that it is not yet possible to fully evaluate the potential for and consequences of unintended changes. Importantly, just because gene-edited organisms don’t contain foreign DNA, this doesn’t make them safe.
Furthermore, there is increasing evidence of ‘off-target’ effects. The intended change (e.g. tolerance to a herbicide or cattle without horns) may be clear to see, but the unintended changes aren’t immediately apparent, and certainly not apparent if they aren’t looked for. It’s a case of ‘don’t look, won’t find’.
Dr. Steinbrecher is the Co-Director of EcoNexus, and organization of scientists in Europe. She is a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist. She has a PhD from the University of London, UK, and a first class honors M.Sc. from the University of Kiel, Germany (1985).