Does Label Law
Cover CRISPR?

By Edible_fungi_in_basket_2012_G1.jpg: George Chernilevskyderivative work: Ak ccm [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By: George Chernilevskyderivative work: Ak ccm [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
If you haven’t had the chance to check out the recent ammendment to the 1947 Agriculture act, here is a pdf: mandatory-labeling-bill. Recently, a version of a mushroom that was developed using the CRISPR technology was designated non-GMO. The recent amendment  would appear to counter that decision however. The wording appears to include ALL genetically altered foods in it’s description of bioengineered foods:

‘‘(A) that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques; and ‘‘(B) for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.

CRISPR technology does not introduce foreign DNA into an organism. What it does is trigger mutations that exist within the genome already, essentially genetic what-ifs. This would satisfy item (B) in the above quote of the amendment, but NOT item (A) since it does use in-vitro recombinant techniques. However, the law also sets a timeline of 2 years for the Secretary of Agriculture to come up with a standard for disclosure concerning bioengineered foods, the amount of bioengineered material that must be present, etc. I think it’s fairly clear that CRISPR will be part of that list, but there may be some leeway.

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