Regulatory, Ethical, and Social Aspects of CRISPR Crops

Aftab Ahmad, Muhammad Zubair Ghouri, Nayla Munawar, Muhammad Ismail, Sidra Ashraf, Syed Ovais Aftab

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

15 Citations (Scopus)


CRISPR/Cas has become the new face of genome editing with rapidly expanding applications in academic research (reverse genetics and functional genomics), as well as applied research to develop new crop varieties with improved traits. The policies and regulations of CRISPR-edited crops are debated worldwide. For example, the USA has been deregulating CRISPR-edited organisms (CEOs) especially crops under existing regulatory laws, whereas the EU regulates all types of CRISPR-edited crops as genetically modified crops. These crops hold tremendous potential for global agriculture and food security. Therefore, the question of how these crops will be regulated determines the future of CRISPR. In this chapter, we highlight product- and process-based regulations of genetically modified (GM) crops because genome editing regulations are also based on these existing regulations. Also, we discuss that the outcomes of site-directed nucleases (ZFNs, TALENs, and CRISPR/) are sometimes similar to conventional mutagenesis techniques, although the worldwide community is divided over their regulation. The USA has been deregulating site-directed nuclease (SDN1 and SDN2) crops, whereas the EU has been following process-based regulation for genome-edited crops and has classified the outcomes of SDN1, SDN2, and SDN3 as GMOs. Furthermore, we emphasize that there is a need for a new product based-scalable regulatory system for genome-edited crops to face the global challenges of food security, food safety, and sustainable agriculture. We summarize that although CRISPR-edited crops are transgene-free, public acceptance of these crops remains a challenge. We also highlight the ethical issues of CRISPR-edited crops and the importance of governance because scientists have cautioned about CRISPR-based gene drives. We also briefly discuss the regulatory cost and time required for the approval of these crops. Finally, we discuss the future prospects of CEOs and challenges related to their regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCRISPR Crops
Subtitle of host publicationThe Future of Food Security
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9789811571428
ISBN (Print)9789811571411
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Health Professions
  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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