Under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. This includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods. The newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.A new ruling from the European Court of Justice addresses whether genetically edited crops fall within the 2001 E.U. Directive on the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Organisms:
In today’s judgment, The European Court of Justice takes the view, first of all, that organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs within the meaning of the GMO Directive, in so far as the techniques and methods of mutagenesis alter the genetic material of an organism in a way that does not occur naturally. It follows that those organisms come,in principle, within the scope of the GMO Directive and are subject to the obligations laid down by that directive.In keeping with its more stringent regulation of genetically engineered (transgenic) crops, the E.U. has decided to maintain a cohesive scheme for modern genetic technologies, classifying genetically edited crops as GMOs. In contrast, the U.S. has bifurcated its oversight of genetically altered crops, with recent decision-making that allows genetically edited crops to advance quickly in field testing.