Regulatory responses to new plant breeding techniques

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Genetic variation in plants is fundamental to food security. New plant breeding techniques, such as genome (or gene) editing using site-directed nuclease (SDN) techniques including CRISPR/Cas9, speed up plant breeding and the creation of genetic variation. Importantly for agriculture, they also broaden the plant species that can have agricultural traits relevant for future food security enhanced. Horticultural plants rather than grain crops, not often subject to biotechnology developments such as genetic modification, are more likely to be the subject of innovation. Some techniques may be attractive to conventional or organic producers. An example of this is reverse breeding, where original parental lines used to produce hybrid lines are recreated. Development and uptake of these techniques requires clear regulatory pathways. However, those pathways are contested in most jurisdictions, with the regulation of the resulting crops becoming an increasingly sensitive subject-matter. Development of modern breeding techniques has triggered reviews of the Australian regulatory frameworks most relevant to food and agricultural produce, including Food Standards Australia New Zealand and Gene Technology Regulator. Final reports on those reviews are due in 2018. These may result in major shifts in Australia’s regulatory approach to agricultural biotechnology, including operation on an output basis, focusing on resulting products, rather than an input basis, focusing on the process used to create products. Other jurisdictions are also moving to consider their responses to these modern agricultural biotechnology techniques. This paper will provide an update on regulatory responses and identify challenges for Australian regulators, the scientific community, and agricultural production and trade in light of them.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventSociety for Social Studies of Science Annual Conference 2018: TRANSnational STS - Sydney International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 29 Aug 20181 Sep 2018


ConferenceSociety for Social Studies of Science Annual Conference 2018
Abbreviated title4S Sydney
Internet address

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