Does genome editing impact the safety of food and feed and hence consumer protection?

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is organising a symposium to be held on Tuesday 6 December 2016 at Berlin-Marienfelde. The symposium will discuss the methods of so-called genome editing and its applications from the perspective of risk assessment of food and feed. The generic term of genome editing denotes new methods enabling targeted changes to the genetic material (genome) of a cell. In some cases they lead to modifications which also occur naturally or which have been induced for a long time in breeding research by means of irradiation or chemical treatment of genetic material - though with less precision. "Genome editing will influence many areas of science, and it will be widely used. Food and feed produced with these new techniques must be safe", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Comprehensive specialised knowledge is indispensable for proper risk assessment. This special knowledge is required not only at the national but also at the European and global level to enable implementation of strategies for the safety assessment of food and feed. Only in this way can our legal mandate of scientific advice to the institutions responsible for regulation be fulfilled." The programme for the event can be found at:

The term "genome editing" comprises new biomolecular methods through which targeted modifications can be made to the genetic information of plants, animals and microorganisms. The term genome editing denotes a range of different techniques: zinc finger nuclease, TALEN, CRISPR-Cas9 as well as oligonucleotide-controlled mutagenesis. Some techniques were introduced a few years ago and are significantly faster and more precise than the previously used procedures of classic genetics and genetic engineering.

The event will notably focus on the possible effects of these new technologies on food and feed safety. With the symposium “New Technologies for the Modification of the Genome”, the BfR provides information on the current state of knowledge and offers a platform for discussing the manifold aspects of genome editing. By organising this opening event, the BfR realises its legal mandate of communicating potential, identified and assessed risks in a balanced way and based on sound scientific evidence.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.


This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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