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The Swedish policy approach to directed mutagenesis in a European context

Eriksson, Dennis
Physiologia plantarum 2018 v.164 no.4 pp. 385-395
Arabidopsis, Brassica napus, European Union, gene editing, genetically modified organisms, issues and policy, mutagenesis, nucleic acids, politics
This review describes the Swedish approach to directed mutagenesis in plants and puts it in a comparative European perspective. Directed mutagenesis is accomplished by a number of genome editing techniques; however, the legal status of these techniques and their resulting products is uncertain in the European Union (EU) as there is no political consensus on whether or not these should be regulated as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A number of cases have developed over the past few years, putting the GMO regulatory framework to the test. These include oilseed rape developed by oligonucleotide‐directed mutagenesis, Arabidopsis developed by clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat‐Cas9, and the case on mutagenesis for which the French Court requested a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU. In this review, the involvement of the Swedish Government and governmental authorities in these cases is described and compared with that of other EU member states and/or EU entity statements and reports. Various approaches to the definition of recombinant nucleic acids are also discussed, as this is crucial for the EU GMO definition thus affecting the legal status of products developed by directed mutagenesis.