Sun, May 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Genome editing same as GMO, groups say

REGULATORY LAPSE?The US Department of Agriculture in March said it has no plans to regulate genome editing, which aims to achieve similar results to traditional breeding

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Genetically edited foods might pose unpredictable health risks and should be regulated as genetically modified products, advocates and lawmakers said yesterday, demanding that the government be more strict about such products.

At a news conference in Taipei, the Homemakers United Foundation demanded that the Food and Drug Administration propose regulations for genetically edited foods, saying they should be regarded as genetically modified organisms (GMO).

It also called on the US government not to regard the nation’s regulations on GMO foods and their exclusion from school lunches as trade barriers.

Since the global campaign “March Against Monsanto” targeting GMO products of US-based agrochemical corporation Monsanto was launched in the US in May 2013, local opponents of GMOs have held events to echo the campaign in May every year, National Taiwan University agronomy professor Warren Kuo (郭華仁) said.

People should support non-GMO foods and collectively make sure the nation produces crops that are not genetically modified, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) called on lawmakers to work together to include genetically edited products in the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), which stipulates that product labels should reveal any GMO ingredients.

While domestically produced soybeans are more expensive, the Council of Agriculture (COA) is encouraging rice farmers to grow other grains by providing subsidies, COA Agriculture and Food Agency section head Cheng Yung-ching (鄭永青) said.

The agency is to promote organic soy milk at local schools, possibly starting with milk made of black beans, because they are cheaper, she said.

As genome editing is a relatively new domain, the department is still collecting information about it, COA Department of Science and Technology Deputy Director-General Kuo Kun-feng said separately.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on March 28 said that it has no plans to regulate plants bred through genome editing techniques if the result could have been achieved through traditional breeding and “as long as [the genomes] are not from plant pests or developed using plant pests.”

Kuo said that council officials did not broach the issue of genome editing during their annual conference with USDA officials last month.

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