The European Court of Justice has today ruled in a landmark case that living organisms, including plants, altered using newer genome editing techniques, class as genetically engineered.
Prior to now, precisely replacing DNA sequences using gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR-Cas9, had been a legal grey area when it came to genetic modification (GM) labelling and regulations.
This ruling has far reaching implications for the food industry in particular where crop species are increasingly engineered to improve yield and tolerance to pests and climatic conditions. In accordance with the new regulations, any product from such a plant would now have to carry labelling to indicate it is GM.
As animal breeding has also begun to turn to CRISPR-Cas9 engineering, scientists and companies alike will need to be mindful of the methods and techniques they chose.
There are however, exemptions to older genetic engineering techniques that already have a long-standing safety record.