A recent Trends in Biotechnology review highlighting “genetically edited organisms” (GeOs) has reportedly suggested that new techniques designed to tweak the existing genome could gain greater public acceptance than older methods, which traditionally use plant bacteria to insert foreign genetic mate- rial into fruit and vegetables. According to an August 13, 2014, Cell Press news release, the review co-authored by Istituto Agrario san Michele researcher Chidananda Nagamangala Kanchiswamy also raises questions about how regulators will classify crops that possess genomes edited to optimize nutri- tion or longevity.

“The researchers say that genetically edited plants, modified through the insertion, deletion, or altering of existing genes of interest, might even be deemed as nongenetically modified, depending on the interpretation of the eu commission and member state regulators,” notes Cell Press. In particular, these new tools could overcome legal barriers in countries slow to adopt genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“We would like people to understand that crop breeding through biotech- nology is not restricted only to GMOs,” explains Kanchiswamy. “Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but GeOs will surge as a ‘natural’ strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future.”