GMOs or non-GMOs? The CRISPR Conundrum

Aftab Ahmad, Amer Jamil, Nayla Munawar

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


CRISPR-Cas9, the “genetic scissors”, is being presaged as a revolutionary technology, having tremendous potential to create designer crops by introducing precise and targeted modifications in the genome to achieve global food security in the face of climate change and increasing population. Traditional genetic engineering relies on random and unpredictable insertion of isolated genes or foreign DNA elements into the plant genome. However, CRISPR-Cas based gene editing does not necessarily involve inserting a foreign DNA element into the plant genome from different species but introducing new traits by precisely altering the existing genes. CRISPR edited crops are touching markets, however, the world community is divided over whether these crops should be considered genetically modified (GM) or non-GM. Classification of CRISPR edited crops, especially transgene free crops as traditional GM crops, will significantly affect their future and public acceptance in some regions. Therefore, the future of the CRISPR edited crops is depending upon their regulation as GM or non-GMs, and their public perception. Here we briefly discuss how CRISPR edited crops are different from traditional genetically modified crops. In addition, we discuss different CRISPR reagents and their delivery tools to produce transgene-free CRISPR edited crops. Moreover, we also summarize the regulatory classification of CRISPR modifications and how different countries are regulating CRISPR edited crops. We summarize that the controversy of CRISPR-edited plants as GM or non-GM will continue until a universal, transparent, and scalable regulatory framework for CRISPR-edited plants will be introduced worldwide, with increased public awareness by involving all stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1232938
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • CRISPR-Cas
  • GM regulations
  • GMOs
  • gene editing
  • transgenic plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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