Esra Seyran and Wendy Craig
Biosafety Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Italy

New breeding techniques (NBTs) are gaining greater uptake in plant breeding programs around the world, due to their greater precision and potential to reduce varietal development times. As the first products of research begin to enter the commercial domain, some of their technical and conceptual overlaps with GM biotechnology have become the focus of international discussions concerning their regulatory status. This review provides an insight into the mechanisms of NBTs, how their products may/may not differ from existing plant products which themselves may/may not be subject to government regulation, and whether a case can be made for them to fall under/escape GMO regulatory oversight. What is especially obvious is that until there is certainty of their regulatory status in key territories and regions, innovation in plant breeding risks stagnation, and both costly delays in market rollouts and trade disruptions are likely due to incompatible and non-harmonious regulatory practices and policies.

Key words: Biosafety, biotechnology, genetically modified organisms, government regulation, mutagenesis, new breeding techniques, plant breeding.