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Gene editing causes drastic unwanted effects in gene-edited plants including severe deformities, a new scientific publication in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe shows. This is the case even when the changes are intended by the gene editor to be small tweaks to existing genes rather than, for example, the introduction of new genetic material.

More broadly, the study provides an overview of the negative effects on ecosystems that can result from the release of gene-edited plants. These unintended effects result from the intended changes induced by genome editing, which can affect various metabolic processes in the plants.

The study, authored by Dr Katharina Kawall, uses the example of camelina (Camelina sativa), a plant that is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Gene editors used a CRISPR/Cas application to increase the amount of oleic acid in the camelina seeds and to reduce the amount of easily oxidised fatty acids. This was intended to extend the shelf life of the oil extracted from the camelina.

Drastic developmental defects in gene-edited camelina

The new paper reviews previous research in CRISPR-edited camelina lines engineered to... see more