Seeds of change

The European Union faces a fresh battle over next-generation plant-breeding techniques.

The US plant-breeding company Cibus is proudly rolling out its first crop created with an innovative precision gene-editing technology: herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape.

The crop will be planted in the United States this spring and the firm already has authorization to cultivate it in Canada. The technology switches just a few nucleotides in a plant’s DNA; the company’s webpage points out that because it works without integrating foreign genetic material, the resulting plants cannot be stigmatized as transgenic. They will, it optimistically declares, “be globally acceptable”.

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