Scientific Steering Committee

CRISPR and other genome editing techniques - implications for risk assessment


Report no:

Publishing: 30.04.2021


Main message:

What are the challenges associated with risk assessment of genome-edited plants and animals? This is one of several questions that the Scientific Committee for Food and the Environment (VKM) wants to answer in a project on genome editing.

In recent years, CRISPR and other genome editing techniques have revolutionized gene technology. Genome editing techniques allows for making targeted changes to genes that already exist in an organism, or for removing genes. Changes can be made faster, more accurately and more cost-effectively than through traditional genetic modification.

Both positive and negative

Pigs resistant to viral disease, cows without horns, soy and oilseeds with altered fatty acid composition, rice with increased drought tolerance and dry rot resistant potatoes. These are examples of genome-edited animals and plants that can potentially provide better animal health, animal welfare, increased food production and positive environmental effects.

New technologies also raise concerns. For example, could genome-edited plants have environmental effects? And could there be health risks?

Consequences for food safety, animal health and biodiversity?

To ensure food safety and modern, sustainable agriculture, we need knowledge and understanding of the risks new products may have for biodiversity and food security.

Therefore, VKM will map and describe various genome editing techniques used in plant development, livestock breeding - both terrestrial and fish - and in the production of microorganisms.

VKM will also create an overview of genome-edited plants, animals and microorganisms that might be relevant to Norwegian conditions, and describe their properties.

VKM will examine the challenges associated with health and environmental risk assessment of genome-edited organisms, and what consequences introduction of these organisms in Norway might have on natural biological diversity.

The project group

VKM has itself initiated the project. Members and external experts from several disciplines participate in the work. The project group consists of:

Sub-project 1: Description of various methods that constitute the genome editing technologies: 

Sub-project 2 – 4: Applications of new genome editing technologies within plant breeding, animal breeding (including farmed fish) and microorganisms relevant for Norway:

Sub-project 5 and 6: Implications for risk assessment regarding genome edited organisms:

VKM's Scientific Steering Committee is academically responsible for the project, scheduled to be completed in April 2021.

Read the Biotechnology Council's pages.

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment

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