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Argentina: Crops / Food

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Determined: No Unique Regulations*

Gene-edited crops that do not contain DNA from another species are regulated as conventional plants, so they don’t face the tighter restrictions of transgenic GMOs.

Gene-edited crops and food are regulated as conventional plants unless they contain foreign DNA, after a dossier is submitted to determine if they are exempt. Gene edited crops are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the Argentine Biosafety Commission (CONABIA). All gene-edited products must be submitted to CONABIA, or otherwise are considered a GMO.

In 2015, Argentina developed the first regulation in the world that specifically defines how crops developed using gene editing techniques are regulated. CONABIA considers gene edited crops on a case-by-case basis and must respond within 60 days whether the organism will be subject to GMO regulations. CONABIA considers: a) the techniques used in the process; b) the genetic change in the final product; and c) the absence of a transgene in the end product. Even if a crop is exempt from GMO regulations, if it possesses characteristics that present the probability of significant risk it can undergo further monitoring by authorities. The previous regulation that defined and regulated GMOs is triggered by  the genetic modification process used.

There is no legally mandated label for genetically engineered food.


  • Non-browning potatoes: The Institute of Agricultural Technology of Argentina (INTA) used CRISPR to develop potatoes that don’t turn brown. The genes of the sugars responsible for the browning process were turned off. Field trials began in 2020.
  • Hypoallergenic milk: INTA used gene editing techniques to develop calves that produce milk that did not contain the genes of the proteins that cause allergic reactions.
  • Higher quality alfalfa: National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) is using CRISPR to develop more productive and higher quality alfalfa.

Regulatory Timeline

2019: Ministry of Production and Work – Directorate of Biotechnology establishes the “Form for the presentation of Instances of Prior Consultation for plants, animals, and microorganisms obtained through New Improvement Techniques”, which streamlines CONABIA’s process to decide if new animals, microorganisms and crops obtained by gene editing will be considered a GMO or not.

2018: Argentina and 12 other nations, including Canada, Australia, Brazil and the US, issue a joint statement supporting agricultural applications of precision biotechnology, stating that governments should “avoid arbitrary and unjustifiable distinctions between end products (crop traits) derived from precision biotechnology and similar end products, obtained through other production methods.”

2018: Ministries of Agriculture of the South Agricultural Council (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) publish declaration stating they would avoid arbitrary and unjustifiable distinctions between agricultural products obtained by gene editing and those obtained through other methods, share information about the development of products and regulatory frameworks, explore opportunities for regional and international harmonization, and work together including with other countries to avoid obstacles.

2015: Resolution 173/2015 establishes a case-by-case consultation process to determine if a gene edited product is within the scope of GMO legislation.

2011: Provisions No. 701 defines a Genetically Modified Organism as any living plant organism that possesses a combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.

2004: Resolution 46/2004 requires GMO seeds to be registered in a specific National Registry of Operators of Genetically Modified Plant Organisms. Registration is a prerequisite to request authorization for the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for testing and to obtain authorization for import or export of GM plants.

NGO Reaction

Environmental advocacy groups, including Argentina sin Tansgenicos (Argentina without transgenics), take the stance that gene editing is just the newest version of transgenic modification, arguing that gene editing has not been tested enough for safety and could lead to unintended side effects, so should be regulated as GMOs.

Additional Resources

Click on a country (eg. Brazil, US) or region (eg. European Union) below to find which agriculture products and processes are approved or in development and their regulatory status. The regulations on genetically engineered crops and animals are emerging out of the regulatory landscape developed for transgenic GMOs.

European Union

European Union


New Zealand

New Zealand

United States

United States





United Kingdom

United Kingdom













Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia

Central America

Central America




Agriculture Gene Editing Index
Compare Regulatory Restrictions Country-to-Country

Gene editing regulations worldwide are evolving. The Gene Editing Index ratings below represent the current status of gene editing regulations and will be updated as new regulations are passed.

Colors and ratings guide

Regulation StatusRating
Determined: No Unique Regulations*10
Lightly Regulated8
Proposed: No Unique Regulations†6
Ongoing Research, Regulations In Development5
Highly Regulated4
Mostly Prohibited2
Limited Research, No Clear Regulations1
Lightly Regulated: Some or all types of gene editing are regulated more strictly than conventional agriculture, but not as strictly as transgenic GMOs.
*Determined: No Unique Regulations: Gene-edited crops that do not incorporate DNA from another species are regulated as conventional plants with no additional restrictions.

†Proposed: No Unique Regulations: Decrees under consideration for gene-edited crops that do not incorporate DNA from another species would no require unique regulations beyond current what is imposed on conventional breeding.

Gene editing of plants and food products. Research and development has mostly focused on disease resistance, drought resistance, and increasing yield, but more recent advances have produced low trans-fat oils and high-fiber grains.
Gene editing of animals, not including animal research for human drugs and therapies. Fewer gene edited animals have been developed than gene edited crops, but scientists have developed hornless and heat-tolerant cattle and fast-growing tilapia may soon be the first gene edited animal to be consumed.

Rating by Country / Region
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Country / RegionFood / CropsAnimalsAg Rating
New Zealand444
Central America666

Global gene editing regulatory landscape

The regulations on genetically engineered crops and animals are emerging out of the regulatory landscape developed for transgenic GMOs. Regulations across 34 countries where transgenic or gene edited crops and animals are commercially allowed (as of 12/19) are guided in part by two factors:
Whether the country has ratified the international agreement that took effect in 2003 that aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from biotechnology that may impact biological diversity, also taking into account potential risks to human health. It entered into force for those nations that signed it in 2003. It applies the ‘precautionary approach as contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The US, Canada, Australia and Chile and the Russian Federation have not signed the treaty.
Whether regulations are based on the genetic process used to create the trait (conventional, mutagenesis, transgenesis, gene editing, etc.) or the final product.Transgenic crops and animals (aka GMOs) are product regulated in many countries including the US and Canada, while the EU, India, China and others regulate based on how the product is made. There is almost an equal number of countries with product- and process-based regulations. It’s not clear how much this distinction matters. It’s somewhat true that countries with product-based regulation have more crops approved and the approval process is more streamlined, but there are contradictions. For example, Brazil and Argentina have emerged as GMO super powers using different regulatory concepts, while there is no GMO commercial cultivation in Japan, North Korea, and the Russian Federation, which employ product-based regulations. How this will effect gene editing regulations is also unclear. For example, Japan, which has no commercialized GMOs, is emerging as a leader in the introduction of gene edited crops.
Agricultural Landscape
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Gene editing is a set of techniques that can be used to precisely modify the DNA of almost any organism. It is being used for applications in human health, gene drives and agriculture. There are numerous gene-editing tools besides CRISPR-Cas 9, which gets most of the attention because it is a comparatively easy tool to use.

Gene editing does not usually involve transgenics – moving ‘foreign’ genes between species. It also refers to a specific technique in contrast to the general term GMO, which is scientifically ambiguous, as genetic modification is a process not a product. Most gene editing involves creating new products by deleting very small segments of DNA (sometimes in agriculture called Site-Directed Nuclease 1 or SDN-1 techniques), which can silence a gene or change a gene’s activity. Countries are evaluating whether or not to regulate this type of gene editing, since it is so similar to natural mutations. The GLP’s Gene Editing Index ratings reflect the regulatory status of SDN-1 techniques, which are the most liberally regulated and will generate most products in the near term.

To develop different products, gene editing can change larger segments of DNA or add DNA from other species (a form of transgenics sometimes in agriculture called SDN-2 or SDN-3 techniques). While many countries are not regulating or lightly regulating SDN-1 techniques, most are moving toward tightly regulating or even restricting SDN-2 and SDN-3.

For more background on the various gene editing SDN techniques, read background articles here and here.