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January's Reddit IAmA in association with eLife features Johnathan Napier, Professor of Plant Sciences and leader of the Omega-3 Camelina Development project at Rothamsted Research, UK.
With a strong belief in the power of genetically modified (GM) plants to deliver for the public good, on June 5, 2018, Johnathan and his project team began the first field trial of a CRISPR-Cas-9 gene-edited Camelina crop, having been approved by the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. However, in late July 2018, after the trial had started, the European Court of Justice ruled that techniques such as gene editing fall within the European Union’s 2001 GMO directive, meaning that their gene-edited Camelina plants should be considered as GM.
In a recent opinion piece published in eLife, Johnathan and his team describe the experience of running this trial and the legal transformation of their plants. They also consider the future of European plant research using gene-editing techniques, which now fall under the burden of GM regulation, and how this will likely impede translation of publicly funded basic research.
Johnathan will be answering questions about their article and their research more broadly at 4pm GMT (11am EST), January 16 on Reddit’s r/IAmA platform.
You can read the full eLife Feature Article here, and use the annotation tool to make notes and discuss the work further.