Publication / FAO – Gene editing and food safety Technical considerations and potential relevance to the work of Codex Alimentarius

Gene (or genome) editing is an umbrella term for various techniques based in molecular biology used for introducing targeted changes in the genome of living organisms. These techniques are used for numerous reasons including to breed new plant varieties, animal breeds, and microbial strains for agricultural purposes. They can potentially develop diverse
traits to increase food production and quality, as well as contributing towards sustainability and climate change resilience. However, since these are innovative breeding techniques, they are also subject to scrutiny by regulatory bodies worldwide.

There are ongoing national and international discussions about the most appropriate forms of regulations to cover such techniques. Current policymaking efforts in this regard focus on the various technical issues including food safety as one of the priority areas. This report provides a review of food safety related issues in applying gene editing for food production, including the applicability of existing Codex Alimentarius principles and guidelines for relevant food safety assessments and it offers some key considerations for developing and implementing policies and regulatory criteria for products derived from gene editing.