Two more genetically engineered plants have passed a Regulatory Status Review: the Donald Danforth Center Teff and Moolec Science Limited Safflor.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently completed the review to determine whether the plants presented an increased pest risk compared to unmodified plants and determined they are not subject to regulation under 7 CFR part 340. That means, from a plant pest risk perspective, these plants may be safely grown and used in breeding in the United States.
Teff is an ancient grain grown widely in northeast Africa because of its drought tolerance and climate adaptability. An iron- and protein-rich food source, productivity is limited because of its tendency to fall over, preventing proper ripening. The teff plant from the Donald Danforth Center (Eragrostis tef) was modified to produce shorter (semi-dwarf) plants and reduce the likelihood of lodging, or stem buckling.
Moolec Science’s safflower plant (Carthamus tinctorius) was modified to produce gamma-linolenic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid in seeds to alter their nutritional value. Although GLA is common in plant seeds, Moolec intends to continue modifying plants to produce animal proteins using animal genes within plants.
In both cases, APHIS found these plants unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk compared to other cultivated teff and safflower plants.
Under 7 CFR part 340, developers may submit a request to APHIS for a Regulatory Status Review (RSR) when they believe a modified plant is not subject to regulation.
APHIS reviews the modified plant and considers whether it might pose an increased plant pest risk compared to a non regulated plant. If the USDA’s review finds a plant is unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk relative to the comparator plant, a response is issued indicating the plant is not subject to the regulations.