With a free pass, CRISPR-edited plants reach market in record time

Last changed: 12 January 2018

Nature Biotechnology

Selected news 
by Mistra Biotech

"CRISPR–Cas9-edited plants can be cultivated and sold free from regulation, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making increasingly clear. The agency gave a free pass to Camelina sativa, or false flax, with enhanced omega-3 oil. And more recently, in October, said that a drought-tolerant soybean variety developed with CRISPR falls outside of its regulatory purview. This laissez faire attitude from the agency shaves years and tens of millions of dollars off the cost of bringing a biotech plant to market."

"Companies that want to know whether their engineered organisms fall outside the USDA's purview can submit their enquires through the agency's “Am I Regulated?” route. In all, the USDA has received at least 57 inquires over the past seven years from organizations large and small—from ag giant Bayer to the startup BioGlow—and in most cases has granted the firms a free pass."

"While the regulatory route for CRISPR-edited plants may be getting streamlined, the road to intellectual property licensing remains rather hazy. One recent deal may help define the playing field. The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and DuPont Pioneer, a division of DowDuPont, which hold key CRISPR patents, said in October they had come to an agreement that will allow companies to obtain a non-exclusive license, while making the intellectual property free for universities and non-profit organizations." - Emily Waltz 10/1


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