Genome edited (GE) and genetically modified (GM) crops will be sown in the UK as part of a ‘world-first’ field trial.
Plans to grow two GE lines of Camelina plants follow official approval of Rothamsted Research’s application to grow GM varieties of Camelina engineered to accumulate omega-3 fish oils in their seeds.
The trials will take place at the institute in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.
While GM plants require approval before they can be grown in the field, GE varieties do not.
Rothamsted’s plant biotechnology lead Johnathan Napier said the difference was between mutations which incorporated DNA from a different species and those which did not.
The GM camelina incorporates new (algal) genes; the GE varieties involve only changes (losses) in the plant’s DNA material.
Like traditional plant breeding, genome editing can create new varieties of plants with desired traits by altering their genetic code in a way which could have happened naturally or which does not incorporate genes from another species.