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Nat Biotechnol. 2005 Apr;23(4):439-44.

Regulating transgenic crops sensibly: lessons from plant breeding, biotechnology and genomics.

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  • 1Seed Biotechnology Center, One Shields Avenue, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The costs of meeting regulatory requirements and market restrictions guided by regulatory criteria are substantial impediments to the commercialization of transgenic crops. Although a cautious approach may have been prudent initially, we argue that some regulatory requirements can now be modified to reduce costs and uncertainty without compromising safety. Long-accepted plant breeding methods for incorporating new diversity into crop varieties, experience from two decades of research on and commercialization of transgenic crops, and expanding knowledge of plant genome structure and dynamics all indicate that if a gene or trait is safe, the genetic engineering process itself presents little potential for unexpected consequences that would not be identified or eliminated in the variety development process before commercialization. We propose that as in conventional breeding, regulatory emphasis should be on phenotypic rather than genomic characteristics once a gene or trait has been shown to be safe.

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